, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 517-525
Date: 08 Aug 2009

Dual chronic hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus infection

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Dual hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are common in HBV or HCV endemic areas. However, several clinical and pathogenetic issues remain unresolved. First, clinical and in vitro studies suggest the interactions between two viruses. The dynamics of the interaction in untreated setting versus treated setting and its influence on the long-term outcomes await further studies. A key issue regarding viral interactions is whether modulation of infection occurs in the same dually infected individual hepatocyte of the liver. Clarifying this issue may help to understand the reciprocal interference between HCV and HBV and provide clues for future immunopathogenetic studies. Second, the prevalence and clinical significance of coexisting occult HBV infection in patients with chronic HCV infection need further investigations. Third, combination therapy of peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin appears to be just as effective and safe for the treatment of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive patients chronically infected with active chronic hepatitis C as it is in patients with HCV monoinfection. Nevertheless, one-third of dually infected patients with nondetectable serum HBV DNA-level pretreatment developed HBV reactivation posttreatment. How to prevent and treat this reactivation should be clarified. Furthermore, about 10% of the dually infected patients lost HBsAg. Underlying mechanisms await further investigations. Finally, the optimal treatment strategies for dually infected patients with hepatitis B e antigen-positive chronic hepatitis B should be identified in future clinical trials.