Effect of recombinant alpha 2 interferon with or without prednisone in Chinese HBsAg carrier children

Q J Med. 1991 Feb;78(286):155-63.


Ninety Chinese hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carrier children, aged 2-17 years, positive for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and hepatitis B virus DNA on at least three occasions in 6 months, were randomized into 3 groups. Thirty children received syrup vitamin B complex as control, 29 received 6 weeks of placebo syrup followed by 16 weeks of recombinant alpha 2b-interferon [intron A (rIFN2b)], 5 x 10(6) u/m2 subcutaneously thrice weekly; and 31 received 6 weeks of syrup prednisone (0.6 mg/kg tailed to 0.2 mg/kg) followed by 16 weeks of recombinant alpha 2b-interferon as above. The placebo/prednisone syrup was given on a double-blind basis. At 24 months of follow-up, persistent loss of hepatitis B virus DNA occurred in none of the children in the control group, in one child receiving recombinant alpha 2b-interferon alone, who also seroconverted to anti-HBe and anti-HBs and in five children receiving interferon with steroid priming (p = 0.0571 compared with controls), with four seroconverting to anti-HBe and one also seroconverting to anti-HBs. A rise of transaminases to above twice the upper limit of normal levels during the first 7 months of follow-up occurred in one subject in the control group, four in the group receiving alpha 2b-interferon alone and nine in the group receiving recombinant alpha 2b-interferon with steroid priming (p = 0.0144 compared with controls). Side effects of the steroid were negligible; those of recombinant alpha 2b-interferon were transient and acceptable. We conclude that 6 weeks of prednisone followed by 16 weeks of recombinant alpha 2b-interferon is of use in inducing persistent loss of hepatitis B virus DNA (16.1 per cent) and e-seroconversion (12.9 per cent) in a proportion of Chinese HBsAg carrier children: the prednisone probably enhances the immunomodulatory effect of recombinant alpha 2b-interferon.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carrier State / microbiology
  • Carrier State / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / microbiology
  • Hepatitis B / therapy*
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / analysis*
  • Hepatitis B e Antigens / analysis
  • Hepatitis B virus / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use*
  • Recombinant Proteins


  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B e Antigens
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Prednisone