Background: Hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) clearance are associated with an improved prognosis in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients. These end points are more often achieved with a oneyear course of pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) compared with one year of nucleoside/nucleotide analogue therapy. However, prolonged nucleoside/nucleotide analogue therapy may result in comparable serological response rates as with PEG-IFN. Methods: We compared serological and virological response rates among HBeAg-positive CHB patients treated with long-term continuous entecavir (ETV; n=91) for a median of 92 (IQR 50-132) weeks or one year of PEG-IFN (n=266) with comparable follow-up. Results: Median follow-up was 92 weeks (IQR 78-198) for patients treated with PEG-IFN and 92 weeks (IQR 50-132) for patients treated with ETV. Finite PEG-IFN therapy resulted in significantly higher rates of HBeAg seroconversion (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 3.16; P<0.001) and HBsAg clearance (HR 5.66; P=0.027) when compared to prolonged ETV treatment, whereas, ETV resulted in higher rates of HBV DNA undetectability (OR 31.14; P<0.001) also after adjustment for HBV genotype and other relevant baseline factors. Conclusions: Our study shows that finite PEG-IFN is associated with a higher probability of serological, but not virological, response for HBeAg-positive CHB patients when compared to prolonged ETV, even after correction for baseline differences.

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Journal Antiviral Therapy
Sonneveld, M.J, Zoutendijk, R, Hansen, B.E, & Janssen, H.L.A. (2012). Pegylated interferon results in higher serological, but not virological, response rates when compared to continuous entecavir. Antiviral Therapy, 17(8), 1605–1608. doi:10.3851/IMP2319