It is unknown whether peginterferon (PEG-IFN) add-on to entecavir (ETV) leads to more HBsAg decline compared to PEG-IFN monotherapy or combination therapy, and whether ETV therapy may prevent HBsAg increase after PEG-IFN cessation. We performed a post hoc analysis of 396 HBeAg-positive patients treated for 72 weeks with ETV + 24 weeks PEG-IFN add-on from week 24 to 48 (add-on, n = 85), 72 weeks with ETV monotherapy (n = 90), 52 weeks with PEG-IFN monotherapy (n = 111) and 52 weeks PEG-IFN + lamivudine (combination, n = 110) within 2 randomized trials. HBsAg decline was assessed at the end of PEG-IFN (EOP) and 6 months after PEG-IFN (EOF) discontinuation. Differences in baseline characteristics were accounted for using inversed probability of treatment weights. At EOP, a HBsAg reduction of ≥1log10 IU/mL was more frequently achieved for patients in the add-on or combination therapy arms (both 36%), compared to PEG-IFN mono (20%) or ETV (8%) (add-on vs PEG-IFN mono P = 0.050). At EOF, the HBsAg reduction ≥1log10 IU/mL was only sustained in patients treated with ETV consolidation (add-on vs combination and PEG-IFN mono: 40% vs 23% and 18%, P = 0.029 and P = 0.003, respectively). For add-on, combination, PEG-IFN mono and ETV, the mean HBsAg-level change at EOF was -0.84, -0.81, -0.68 and -0.33 log10 IU/mL, respectively (P > 0.05 for PEG-IFN arms). HBeAg loss at EOF was 36%, 31%, 33% and 20%, respectively (P > 0.05). PEG-IFN add-on for 24 weeks results in more on-treatment HBsAg decline than does 52 weeks of PEG-IFN monotherapy. ETV therapy may maintain the HBsAg reduction achieved with PEG-IFN.

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Keywords combination therapy, ETV consolidation, PEG-IFN add-on, viral hepatitis
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Journal Journal of Viral Hepatitis
Brouwer, W.P, Sonneveld, M.J, Xie, Q, Guo, S, Zhang, N, Zeuzem, S, … Janssen, H.L.A. (2016). Peginterferon add-on results in more HBsAg decline compared to monotherapy in HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B patients. Journal of Viral Hepatitis, 23(6), 419–426. doi:10.1111/jvh.12468