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Virological profiles in hepatitis B virus/hepatitis C virus coinfected patients under interferon plus ribavirin therapy.

Author(s): Saitta C, Pontisso P, Brunetto MR, Fargion S, Gaeta GB, Niro GA, Picciotto A, Smedile A, Squadrito G, Raimondo G

Affiliation(s): Unit of Clinical and Molecular Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Messina, Italy.

Publication date & source: 2006, Antivir Ther., 11(7):931-4.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Multicenter Study; Randomized Controlled Trial

BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is believed to exert a suppressive effect on hepatitis B virus (HBV) in most HBV/HCV-coinfected patients; once HCV is cured by interferon-based therapy, these patients may show HBV reactivation. However, recent evidence revealed that the virological status in HBV/HCV-untreated individuals may vary over time and may show fluctuating profiles. METHODS: To evaluate the behaviour of apparently inactive HBV infection in patients under treatment for a concurrent HCV infection, we performed a prospective study that evaluated nine consecutive patients (eight males with a median age of 45.9 years, and one female aged 62 years) longitudinally followed-up with bi-monthly evaluation of HBV/HCV viraemia levels and liver biochemistry during a 1-year treatment with interferon plus ribavirin. RESULTS: In seven cases the HBV infection maintained its inactive status independently of the HCV response to therapy. By contrast, two non-responder cases with persistently high HCV RNA levels showed HBV DNA flairs during the follow-up, indicating a status of active HBV infection with fluctuating virological profiles. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that the HBV behaviour may be independent of the HCV activity during anti-HCV therapy in HBV/HCV-coinfected patients, and that the HBV virological profile should be monitored to recognize possible reactivations that might lead to more proper therapeutic choices or adjustments.

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