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Drugs. 1995 Nov;50(5):873-96.

Interferon-alpha-2a. A review of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic use in the management of viral hepatitis.

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Adis International Limited, Auckland, New Zealand.


Interferon-alpha-2a is a recombinant interferon with antiviral, antitumour and immunomodulatory properties. Clinical studies have demonstrated that the drug offers therapeutic benefit in patients with some forms of chronic viral hepatitis. Remission, as measured by clearance of viral DNA and hepatitis B 'e' antigen (HBeAg), and normalisation of serum alanine aminotransferase levels, is observed in approximately 30 to 45% of patients with chronic hepatitis B receiving interferon-alpha-2a (2.5 to 18MU administered 3 times/week); about 5 to 15% of untreated controls remit spontaneously every year. Complete recovery [with loss of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)] is usually noted in < 20% of treated individuals. Similar response rates have been reported in the relatively small number of children evaluated to date. Although numerous studies have shown that interferon-alpha-2a (at various dosages) induces biochemical amelioration of chronic hepatitis C in approximately 50 to 75% of patients, relapse is common. Thus, long term remission may only be observed in about 15 to 30% of treated patients. On the other hand, this disorder remits spontaneously in only a few patients. The role of interferon-alpha-2a in the treatment of chronic hepatitis D remains unclear. Although preliminary data suggest it may be beneficial, cessation of therapy is generally followed by relapse. As with other types of interferons, most patients receiving interferon-alpha-2a experience an 'influenza-like' syndrome, which tends to diminish with continuing therapy. Other effects such as fatigue, lethargy, anorexia and weight loss are usually dose-limiting. Serum neutralising antibodies develop in approximately 10 to 20% of treated patients. Thus, although response rates are less than optimal, interferon-alpha-2a is a drug of first choice amongst the limited therapeutic options available for the management of well-compensated chronic viral hepatitis B or C.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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