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Dig Dis Sci. 2001 Apr;46(4):901-6.

Combination therapy of active HBsAg vaccination and interferon-alpha in interferon-alpha nonresponders with chronic hepatitis B.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldolf, Germany.


Treatment with interferon-alpha leads to cessation of viral replication in 30-40% of patients with chronic hepatitis B. Preliminary data suggest that therapeutic vaccination in patients with chronic HBV infection may be beneficial. The present trial was conducted to assess the efficacy of combination therapy of interferon-alpha with HBsAg vaccination in patients who previously failed to respond to interferon-alpha alone. Eighteen patients positive for HBsAg and HBeAg were included. Mean ALT was 81+/-23 units/liter and 7 (39%) patients had HBV-DNA levels >2000 pg/ml. Patients received 5 million IU interferon-alpha 2b (Intron A) thrice weekly for six months and recombinant HBsAg (Gen H-B-Vax) at the beginning and 4 and 12 weeks after initiation of interferon therapy. No serious side effects were seen during the trial period. Loss of HBeAg was seen in 39% (7/18), HBV DNA was undetectable in 50% (9/18), and ALT was normal in 56% 10/18) of patients six months after completion of therapy. Simultaneous administration of interferon-a and HBsAg vaccination in patients previously not responding to interferon alone appears to be safe, well-tolerated, and it achieved response rates similar to or even higher than interferon in treatment naive patients. This combination therapy seems to offer a new and promising approach for patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

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