Immunological studies before and during interferon therapy in chronic HBV infection: identification of factors predicting response

Hepatology. 1990 Nov;12(5):1111-7. doi: 10.1002/hep.1840120506.


Lymphoblastoid interferon is effective therapy in some but not all patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. To assess whether immunological parameters were predictive of response to interferon therapy, we determined the human leukocyte antigen type, CD4/CD8 ratio, natural killer cell activity, IgM anti-HBc antibody levels and concanavalin A-induced lymphocyte proliferative response in 30 patients before treatment. In addition, to investigate the mechanisms of action of interferon in promoting hepatitis B virus clearance, we serially measured the CD4/CD8 ratios, natural killer activity and lymphocyte proliferative response at wk 4, 8 and 12 of treatment. A beneficial response to therapy was defined as the sustained clearance of HBeAg and serum hepatitis B virus DNA within 1 yr of commencing therapy. Elevated IgM anti-HBc levels were associated with a beneficial response to therapy, but there was no correlation observed between response and pretreatment CD4/CD8 ratio, natural killer activity or lymphocyte proliferative response. Six of seven human leukocyte antigen DR3-positive patients responded. No measurable changes in the immunological parameters studied were observed in the nonresponder group, whereas a significant rise in CD4/CD8 ratio, associated with a fall in peripheral CD8 number and a decline in measurable NK activity, was seen in the responder group. These changes were maximal at the time of hepatitis B virus DNA clearance, which was associated with a transient increase in hepatic inflammation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibody Formation
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Hepatitis B / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B / pathology
  • Hepatitis B / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiopathology
  • Interferons / therapeutic use*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / pathology
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Interferons