Lege Artis Medicinae

[UP-TO-DATE MANAGEMENT OF CHRONIC HEPATITIS B]

HORVÁTH Gábor

NOVEMBER 10, 2008

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2008;18(11)

[Hepatitis B virus infection is a significant health problem worldwide, as well as in Hungary. The chronic infection is usually symptomless, its most dangerous risks are liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The latter may occur without development of liver cirrhosis, so it means a potential complication for patients with inactive phase of infection, as well. Criteria of the indication of antiviral treatment have changed in the last years due to the flare of our knowledge about the natural history of the disease. In our days quantitative determination of hepatitis B viral nucleic acid titer is essential for diagnosis. Formerly, a HBsAg positive patient with normal liver enzymes had been regarded as inactive carrier, and antiviral treatment had not been advised. In our days, the phase of the infection and the necessity of the treatment can not be determined without measurement of nucleic acid titer. Liver biopsy and, if inflammation or fibrosis is present, antiviral treatment is indicated, if the nucleic acid titer is >20 000 IU/ml in HBeAg positive, and >2000 IU/ml in HBe negative cases, respectively. Interferon alpha is the gold standard of treatment for chronic B hepatitis. Pegylated interferon alpha-2a is used because of its better pharmacokinetic properties. Oral agents include nucleoside/ nucleotide analogues with rare and mild adverse effects, and they may be given to patients with decompensated liver disease. Their main disadvantages include the development of drug-resistance, and the very low ratio of HBsAg-anti-HBs seroconversion. Recent drugs like adefovir, entecavir and tenofovir have replaced lamivudin, which has been in use for the longest time, because they are more effective and resistance against them is less frequent.]

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