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J Hepatol. 2007 Jan;46(1):45-52. Epub 2006 Oct 20.

Interferon therapy in HBeAg positive chronic hepatitis reduces progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Liver Research Unit, Chang Gung University and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.



The long-term outcomes of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) therapy in hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seropositive patients remain controversial. This study was conducted to address this issue.


The long-term outcomes were compared in 233 IFN-treated patients and 233 well-matched untreated controls.


The cumulative incidence at the end of 15 years of follow-up (median 6.8 years, range 1.1-16.5 years) in the IFN-treated patients and controls was: HBeAg seroconversion 74.6% vs. 51.7% (P=0.031); hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroclearance 3% vs. 0.4% (P=0.03); cirrhosis 17.8% vs. 33.7% (P=0.041); and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) 2.7% vs. 12.5% (P=0.011). Significant reduction of HCC was only observed in patients with pre-existing cirrhosis (P<0.01). Compared with untreated controls with persistent HBeAg, HBeAg seroconverters in untreated and IFN-treated group showed significantly lower incidence of cirrhosis and HCC (P=0.003-0.031), while non-seroconverters of IFN-treated group had marginally significant lower incidence of cirrhosis (P=0.065). Multivariate analysis showed that IFN therapy, HBeAg seroconversion and genotype B HBV infection are independent factors for better long-term outcomes.


IFN therapy reduces cirrhosis and HCC development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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