Review Article

Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 577-593

First online:

Interferon in the management of chronic hepatitis B

  • Robert P. PerrilloAffiliated withGastroenterology Section, St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center (111 JC)Washington University School of Medicine

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Many drugs have been used in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B, but with the exception of interferon, none have proved to be effective. Several studies have found that a sustained loss of viral replication occurs in approximately 40% of patients who arted with a 16-week course of recombinant interferon alfa-2b given in a dose of 5 million units daily or 10 million units three times weekly. Moreover, disappearance of hepatitis B surface antigen in serum has been observed in 10–15% of treated patients. Based on these results, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of this form of interferon in chronic hepatitis B in July 1992. This article reviews the importance of chronic hepatitis B as a health problem as well as the mechanisms of action, benefits, and adverse effects associated with interferon. Particular emphasis is given to the safety and efficacy data for recombinant interferon alfa-2b.

Key Words

interferon antiviral hepatitis B hepatitis B virus