1Institute of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China; Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China; State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Chronic hepatitis B is one of the leading causes of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma globally. At present, seven drugs, including two interferons and five oral nucleos(t)ide analogues (NAs), have been approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B. Interferon works by immunomodulation, but is successful in less than a third of treated patients and is a relatively weak antiviral. NAs directly suppress the hepatitis B virus but have limited durability. Based on current data, combination of NA and interferon results in greater viral suppression but does not translate to off-treatment sustained response. Concomitant or sequential treatment also does not make a difference. Combining telbivudine and interferon also runs the risk of severe peripheral neuropathy. On the other hand, interferon switch or additional therapy in patients well controlled with NAs appears to improve the durability of off-treatment response. This article reviews current data on interferon and NA combination and discusses potential future developments.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.