The aim of antiviral therapy of chronic hepatitis B is to control Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) replication and to cure liver disease avoiding the progression of chronic hepatitis to cirrhosis and the end stage complications of cirrhosis. HBeAg / anti-HBe seroconversion is the hallmark of response in hepatitis B “e” antigen (HBeAg) positive patients. In the patients with antibody against HBeAg (anti-HBe positive) the combination of HBV DNA and anti-HBc IgM tests provides adequate diagnostic accuracy. Patients with biochemical and / or histological disease activity are eligible to therapy. The drug choice is based on age, disease severity, risk of complications, side effects and compliance, particularly in anti-HBe positive patients where prolonged treatment is needed. Interferon (5-6 MU daily or 9-10 MU thrice weekly for 4-6 months) is the first line therapy for HBeAg positive patients and (5-6 MU thrice weekly for 12-24 months) for anti-HBe positive patients. When IFN is contraindicated or ineffective, Lamivudine (100 mg) or Adefovir Dipivoxil (10 mg) are given as long as 4-6 months after HBeAg / anti-HBe seroconversion or for long-term treatments in HBeAg positive non-responders and anti-HBe positive patients. Patients with more advanced forms of cirrhosis and portal hypertension are to be treated within liver transplantation programs. Fifteen to 30% of treated patients achieve sustained response and more than 60% of them experience long-term disease remission during therapy. In perspectives, currently available molecular and immunologic tools and modelling of viral dynamics will help to address the therapy issue with more complex, efficacious and individually tailored treatment schedules.
Keywords: chronic hepatitis b, treatment, drug resistance, interferon, nucleoside analogues
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