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Liver Int. 2008 Nov;28(9):1288-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-3231.2008.01746.x. Epub 2008 Apr 7.

Interferon-alpha treatment in children and young adults with chronic hepatitis B: a long-term follow-up study in Taiwan.

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Department of Pediatrics, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.



The short- and long-term benefits of interferon (IFN)-alpha therapy in young patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) acquiring infection perinatally or during early childhood have been questioned.


Twenty-one Taiwanese hepatitis B envelope antigen (HBeAg)-positive CHB patients aged 1.8-21.8 years (median 14.0 years) with alanine aminotransferase (ALT)>80 IU/L at entry were enrolled for IFN-alpha therapy. They received IFN-alpha therapy with a dose of 3 MU/m(2)/day three times a week for 24 weeks. A control group included untreated 21 CHB patients closely matched for gender, age, duration of ALT >80 IU/L and HBeAg status. All 42 patients were prospectively followed for 6.5-12.5 years after the end of therapy.


The cumulative rate of virological response [anti-HBe seroconversion and serum hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA <10(5) copies/ml] was not different between the IFN-treated patients and control patients at 1 year (41 vs 44%) and at 6 years (88 vs 89%) after stopping treatment. Serum hepatitis B surface antigen loss occurred in two (9.5%) treated patients and in one (4.8%) control patient. Patients with a successful treatment response (anti-HBe seroconversion, HBV-DNA <10(2) copies/ml and ALT normalization at 1 year after stopping treatment) were younger than those without a successful response (P=0.03). A lower pretreatment serum HBV-DNA level (<2 x 10(8) copies/ml) is not only a significant factor to predict successful treatment response (P=0.008) but also has a beneficial effect on the long-term cumulative rate of virological response in IFN-treated patients (P=0.021), but not in control patients. Genotype difference or emergence of a precore stop codon mutant before treatment was not predictive for HBeAg clearance.


For young CHB patients in Taiwan with infection occurring perinatally or in early childhood, the real advantage of IFN-alpha therapy was not observed. IFN-alpha therapy showed a beneficial effect on short- and long-term virological outcomes only in those with a lower pretreatment serum HBV-DNA level.

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