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J Hepatol. 1992 Mar;14(2-3):305-9.

Failure of acyclovir to enhance the antiviral effect of alpha lymphoblastoid interferon on HBe-seroconversion in chronic hepatitis B. A multi-centre randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Internal Medicine II, University Hospital Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Serum HBeAg levels and HBe-seroconversion were investigated in patients with chronic HBeAg-positive hepatitis who were randomized to receive either alpha lymphoblastoid interferon (5 megaunits subcutaneously daily for 16 weeks) plus acyclovir (2 g intravenously daily during weeks 1 and 2 and weeks 9 and 10) (n = 49) or no treatment (n = 48). HBeAg levels in serial dilutions of patient serum were assessed quantitatively by radioimmunoassay and compared with the values found for negative control serum. One year after the start of therapy 44 treated patients and 43 control patients were available for follow-up. A complete response (HBe-seroconversion) occurred in 11 treated patients (25%) and six controls (14%) (difference: 11%, 95% CI-5-28%). A partial response (HBeAg less than 50% of initial level) was found significantly more often for treated patients (n = 13, 30%) than for controls (n = 2, 5%) (difference: 25%, 95% CI 10-40%). During acyclovir-interferon combination therapy the decrease in HBeAg level was similar to that achieved during therapy with interferon alone. We conclude that acyclovir does not enhance the effect of interferon on serum HBeAg levels. Since HBeAg levels continue to decline during interferon treatment and rebound thereafter to pretreatment levels, prolongation of therapy may yield a higher response rate.

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