Long-term follow-up of patients with chronic hepatitis B treated with interferon alfa

Gastroenterology. 1997 Nov;113(5):1660-7. doi: 10.1053/gast.1997.v113.pm9352870.


Background & aims: Therapy with interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) leads to remission of disease in one third of patients with chronic hepatitis B. The aim of this study was to better define the long-term prognosis of this outcome.

Methods: One hundred three patients with chronic hepatitis B who underwent IFN-alpha therapy in three clinical trials between 1984 and 1991 were followed up for serological status, biochemical evidence of liver disease, and liver complications or mortality through 1994.

Results: Among 103 patients, 31 (30%) responded to therapy with loss of hepatitis B e antigen and viral DNA from serum. Responders were more likely than nonresponders to be women, black, and to have more severe liver disease including cirrhosis (P < 0.05). Up to 11 years (mean, 6.2 years) after therapy, a higher percentage of responders than nonresponders were still negative for hepatitis B e antigen (94% vs. 40%; P < 0.001) and hepatitis B surface antigen (71% vs 8.3%; P < 0.001). Overall, the rate of liver-related complications and death did not differ by IFN-alpha response, but with adjustment for cirrhosis, nonresponders had higher rates of liver-related complications and mortality (hazard ratio, 13.7; 95% confidence interval, 3.0-63.5).

Conclusions: The response to IFN-alpha therapy in chronic hepatitis B is usually a sustained improvement in disease markers and, when cirrhosis is considered, patient outcome.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Chronic Disease
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatitis B / complications
  • Hepatitis B / mortality
  • Hepatitis B / therapy*
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / blood
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Survival Rate


  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases