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Hepatitis B: encouraging the use of interferon

Krishnamoorthy, Thinesh Leea; Mutimer, Davida,b

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: December 2015 - Volume 28 - Issue 6 - p 557–562
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000209
ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS: VIRAL: Edited by William Irving
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Purpose of review Hepatitis B is a major cause of hepatocellular carcinoma and liver cirrhosis. Interferon (IFN)-based therapies provide the highest likelihood of achieving off-treatment virological and serological control although their use is often avoided because of the side-effect profile. We review recent developments regarding the use of IFN in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B, including proposed strategies to enhance efficacy while limiting treatment exposure for patients who are unlikely to achieve acceptable treatment endpoints.

Recent findings The utility of host genetics (human leukocyte antigen associations and interleukin 28B) is yet to be defined. In hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive disease, add-on IFN therapy to patients on entecavir may allow curtailment of nucleos(t)ide analogue treatment. In HBeAg-negative disease, an on-treatment stopping rule that measures decline of hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B virus DNA at 12 and 24 weeks may identify up to two-thirds of poor responders. Prolonging IFN therapy to 96 weeks in patients with HBeAg-negative disease may improve virological and serological response rates. The combination of telbivudine and IFN therapy is contraindicated because of high rates of peripheral neuropathy.

Summary These findings need to be confirmed in larger trials before they can be instituted into routine clinical practice.

aLiver and Hepatobiliary Unit

bNIHR Liver Biomedical Research Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK

Correspondence to David Mutimer, Professor of Clinical Hepatology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK. E-mail: david.mutimer@uhb.nhs.uk

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