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Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Levels Useful in Prognosis

Baseline measurement identifies patients most likely to benefit from interferon-based therapy

FRIDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with hepatitis B e antigen-negative chronic hepatitis who are treated with peginterferon alfa-2a, on-treatment quantification of hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) may predict which patients are most likely to be cured, according to a report published in the April issue of Hepatology.

Maurizia Rossana Brunetto, M.D., of the Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana in Pisa, Italy, and colleagues studied 386 patients, 127 of whom received peginterferon alfa-2a, 137 who received peginterferon alfa-2a plus lamivudine, and 122 who received lamivudine monotherapy.

The researchers found that end-of-treatment HBsAg serum level was strongly associated with hepatitis B virus DNA suppression to less than or equal to 400 copies/mL at six months post-treatment and that levels below 10 IU/mL at week 48 were significantly associated with sustained HBsAg clearance three years after treatment.

"Quantitative on-therapy measurement of serum HBsAg may be useful to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from interferon-based therapy and may help tailor and optimize treatment duration," the authors conclude. "Further studies to determine the optimal time points to measure HBsAg level are therefore warranted."

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