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Antivir Ther. 2006;11(6):669-79.

Hepatitis B virus replication and liver disease progression: the impact of antiviral therapy.

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Liver Research Unit, Chang Gung University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a serious health issue worldwide. The presence of HBV replication markers--hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) or HBV DNA--is associated with continuing hepatitis activity or intermittent hepatitis flares and subsequent disease progression, including hepatic decompensation and development of liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Long-term (>10 years) prospective studies in patients >30 years of age have shown that HBeAg seropositivity is associated with increased risk of disease progression, and the risk of cirrhosis and HCC begins to increase at an HBV DNA level of 10(4) copies/ml. Therefore, elimination of HBV, or at least sustained or maintained suppression of HBV, is the key to reducing hepatitis and thereby halting or preventing disease progression. Therapy with interferon-alpha or a direct antiviral agent has been shown to reduce the risk of cirrhosis and prevent further disease worsening. In both the woodchuck hepatitis model and in HBV patients, maintained suppression of HBV replication by a direct antiviral agent may reduce the progression to HCC. However, the efficacy of current antiviral therapy is still far from satisfactory. The ability to achieve a high rate of sustained or maintained HBV suppression with a low risk of drug resistance would be the ultimate goal in the treatment of chronic HBV infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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