Combining peginterferon-alfa-2a (pegIFN) with a nucleotide analogue can result in higher rates of HBsAg loss than either therapy given alone. Here, we investigated the durability of the response to combination therapy in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients after 5 years of follow-up. In the initial study, 92 CHB patients (44 HBeAg-positive, 48 HBeAg-negative) with HBV DNA >100 000 c/mL (~20 000 IU/mL) and active hepatitis were treated for 48 weeks with pegIFN 180 μg/week and 10 mg adefovir dipivoxil daily. For the long-term follow-up (LTFU) study, patients were followed up for 5 years after the end of treatment. At year 5, 70 (32 HBeAg-positive, 38 HBeAg-negative) patients remained in the study. At year 5, 19% (6/32) of HBeAg-positive patients and 16% (6/38) of HBeAg-negative patients lost HBsAg, and no HBsAg seroreversion was observed. The 5-year cumulative Kaplan-Meier estimate for HBsAg loss was 17.2% for HBeAg-positive patients and 19.3% for HBeAg-negative patients. Fourteen of sixteen patients who lost HBsAg at any time point during follow-up developed anti-HBs antibodies (>10 IU/L). At year 5, in total 63% (20/32) of HBeAg-positive and 71% (27/38) of HBeAg-negative patients were retreated with nucleos(t)ide analogues during follow-up. The cumulative Kaplan-Meier estimate for retreatment was 60% of patients at year 5. At year 5 of follow-up, 18% of CHB patients treated with pegIFN/nucleotide analogue combination therapy had durable HBsAg loss and 88% of these had developed anti-HBs antibodies.

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Keywords combination treatment, functional cure, hepatitis B virus, long-term follow-up, nucleotide analogue, peginterferon, quantitative HBsAg
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Journal Journal of Viral Hepatitis
Stelma, F. (F.), Van Der Ree, M.H, Jansen, L, Peters, M, Janssen, H.L.A, Zaaijer, H.L, … Reesink, H.W. (2017). HBsAg loss after peginterferon-nucleotide combination treatment in chronic hepatitis B patients: 5 years of follow-up. Journal of Viral Hepatitis, 24(12), 1107–1113. doi:10.1111/jvh.12738