Published online Oct 31, 2009. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v1.i1.43
Revised: September 1, 2009
Accepted: September 8, 2009
Published online: October 31, 2009
Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) represents an important public health problem. HBeAg-negative CHB is frequently associated with advanced liver disease and its prevalence is increasing. Monotherapy with either interferon (conventional or pegylated) or nucleoside/nucleotide analogues has its limitations. It has been suggested that a combination of these agents might increase antiviral efficacy. However, existing data do not support this hypothesis, even though combination treatment appears to reduce the risk for emergence of lamivudine resistance. Nevertheless, most existing combination studies are small, and it is possible that they have not been designed to detect significant differences between combination treatment and monotherapies. Another limitation of these studies is that, in most of them, lamivudine treatment was discontinued after 1 year, a strategy that is not followed in clinical practice. It was thought to be interesting to evaluate the combination of a short course of interferon (particularly pegylated) with the long-term administration of nucleotide or nucleoside analogues. The efficacy of combining pegylated interferon with the newer nucleotide or nucleoside analogues or of nucleotide with nucleoside analogues could also be evaluated. However, findings show that until more data are available, combination therapy cannot be recommended as first-line treatment in patients with CHB. On the other hand, add-on therapy with adefovir or tenofovir is the treatment of choice in patients who develop resistance to lamivudine. In patients with cirrhosis, a combination of lamivudine/adefovir may also be used as initial treatment; another option would be to add tenofovir in patients with an insufficient response to entecavir.