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Hepatology. 2006 Sep;44(3):721-7.

Patterns of viral decline during PEG-interferon alpha-2b therapy in HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B: relation to treatment response.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


In chronic hepatitis B, it is difficult to predict an early therapeutic response. We investigated the viral decline during therapy with pegylated interferon alpha-2b (PEG-IFN) with or without lamivudine in 266 HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B patients. In patients treated with PEG-IFN and lamivudine, a uniform biphasic viral decline pattern was found during therapy and there were no marked differences in viral load between those who lost HBeAg at the end of follow-up (response) or not. In contrast, those treated with PEG-IFN monotherapy exhibited different viral decline patterns. A delayed decline of at least two log from baseline HBV DNA after week 4 but before week 32 was associated with the highest response rate (63%). In comparison, response was 52% for patients with an early decline (week 0-4), 38% for a late decline (week 32-52), 27% for a posttreatment decline (week 52-78) and 11% for patients with no substantial decline. The HBsAg loss was 22% in the delayed decline pattern compared to 4% for those with early decline and none for other decline patterns. In conclusion, different patterns of decline in viral load during treatment with PEG-IFN monotherapy were associated with different rates of HBeAg and HBsAg loss at the end of follow-up. Since there was a considerable response, even in patients with a late or posttreatment decline pattern, prediction of response based on viral decline during the first months of therapy was difficult.

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