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World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Dec 7;14(45):6902-10.

Current treatment indications and strategies in chronic hepatitis B virus infection.


The optimal approach to the management of several marginal cases with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is controversial. Serum HBV DNA and aminotransferase levels, and the degree of necroinflammation and fibrosis determine the therapeutic decisions. All patients with elevated aminotransferase (>twice the upper limit of normal) and serum HBV DNA above 20000 IU/mL should be treated. Liver biopsy is important for therapeutic decisions in cases with mild aminotransferase elevations and serum HBV DNA below 20000 IU/mL. Chronic HBV patients who do not receive treatment should be followed for life. There are seven agents licensed for chronic hepatitis B: standard and pegylated interferon-alpha, lamivudine, adefovir, entecavir, telbivudine and tenofovir. One-year courses with pegylated interferon-alpha induce sustained off-therapy remission in 30%-32% of patients with HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B and in a smaller proportion of patients with HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B. Oral antivirals achieve initial on-therapy responses in the majority of patients, but are intended as long-term therapies. Viral suppression has favourable effects on patients' outcome and modifies the natural course of the disease. Viral resistance, however, is the major drawback of long-term oral antiviral therapy. Lamivudine monotherapy is associated with the highest and entecavir monotherapy with the lowest resistance rate so far. There has been no resistance to tenofovir, but after only 18 mo of treatment to date. The optimal first-line anti-HBV therapy with the best long-term cost/benefit ratio remains unclear. If oral antiviral agents are used, compliance should always be ascertained and HBV DNA levels should be regularly tested.

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