Safety and efficacy of interferon alpha-2b following prednisone withdrawal in the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B. A case-controlled, randomised study.

Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town.
South African medical journal = Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir geneeskunde (Impact Factor: 1.71). 11/1992; 82(5):317-20.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The therapeutic effects of interferon alpha-2b (Intron A; Scherag) in patients with chronic active hepatitis caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) were assessed in a randomised, case-controlled clinical trial conducted between January 1988 and June 1990. Treatment involved a short course of prednisone followed by interferon alpha-2b, initially 10 million U by subcutaneous injection, 3 times a week for 16 weeks. All patients were symptomatic, were known to have had hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) in their blood for at least 6 months, and had elevated serum aminotransferase activities with histological evidence of chronic active hepatitis. Patients with carcinoma, renal or haematological abnormalities or decompensated cirrhosis were excluded. In 6 of 10 patients randomised to receive interferon and 1 of 10 controls, HBeAg and HBV DNA were cleared from the blood during the 12-month study period (P < 0.05). An indeterminate response with clearance of HBV DNA but persistence of HBeAg was noted in 1 patient receiving interferon. Serum aminotransferase levels decreased only in those patients who had responded to treatment, but this did not reach statistical significance for the group as a whole. Histological studies, where available, showed decreased hepatic periportal necrosis in patients who underwent treatment. Two patients relapsed to HBeAg-positive status 2 months after their initial seroconversion; 1 became clear again during a repeat course of interferon. Side-effects of treatment were common and included fever, malaise, myalgias and myelosuppression. One patient developed hypothyroidism.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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