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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2000 Apr;30(3):234-41.

Antiviral therapy of HBV- and HCV-induced liver cirrhosis.

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  • 1Divisione di Medicina Generale Crespi, Ospedale Niguarda, Milano, Italy.


Antiviral therapy is generally indicated in patients who have histologic evidence of chronic hepatitis and ongoing viral replication. The aim of treatment is to normalize alanine aminotransferase levels and to eliminate virus replication. Interferon-alfa (IFN-alpha) is the most used agent. The standard treatment regimen for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive cirrhosis is based on IFN-alpha given alone, but the efficacy of new antivirals (famciclovir, lamivudine) with or without IFN-alpha is currently under investigation. Conversely, the therapy of antiHBe-positive cirrhosis is far from being satisfactory. The results of treatment of patients affected by type C cirrhosis with IFN-alpha alone have been disappointing, as 10-15% of treated patients shows a sustained virologic response. Although current evidence suggests that the combination of ribavirin and IFN-alpha might be more efficacious than IFN alone in increasing the response rate in patients in the advanced fibrotic stage, the efficacy of this regimen for patients with well-compensated HCV-related cirrhosis is still unknown and prospective well-designed studies are urgently needed. Patients with decompensated cirrhosis are not generally treated unless they are included in liver transplantation programs. Prospective long-term trials with large sample sizes are needed to determine if responders to IFN-alpha have a low incidence of liver-related complications and hepatocellular carcinoma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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