Research Article

Randomised controlled trial of lymphoblastoid interferon alfa in Europid men with chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

BMJ 1989; 299 doi: (Published 09 September 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;299:652
  1. M. G. Brook,
  2. G. Chan,
  3. I. Yap,
  4. P. Karayiannis,
  5. A. M. Lever,
  6. M. Jacyna,
  7. J. Main,
  8. H. C. Thomas
  1. Academic Department of Medicine, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To confirm the findings of pilot studies that interferon alfa is an effective treatment of Europid men with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. DESIGN--Randomised controlled trial of three months treatment with interferon alfa followed by 12 months of observation. SETTING--Outpatient clinic of a tertiary referral centre. PATIENTS--37 Treated men (six anti-HIV positive) and 34 untreated men (nine anti-HIV positive) who met the criteria for the trial. Four controls failed to complete follow up. INTERVENTIONS--The treated group received subcutaneous injections of 5-10 MU interferon alfa/m2 daily for five days, then 10 MU/m2 thrice weekly for 11 weeks. Follow up continued at monthly intervals for 12 months. Untreated controls were monitored over the same period. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Hepatitis B e antigen and hepatitis B virus DNA state after 15 months of observation. RESULTS--12 Of the 37 treated patients cleared hepatitis B e antigen and hepatitis B virus DNA, whereas only one of 30 untreated controls seroconverted over the same period--an increased response rate of 29% (95% confidence interval 13% to 45%). The life table estimate of response at 15 months was 35% in treated patients, an increase of 32% above controls (95% confidence interval 16% to 48%). The response rates in groups by predictive pretreatment variables were 12 of 31 anti-HIV negative patients (excess response 34%; 95% confidence interval 14% to 54%), 12 of 26 with chronic active hepatitis before treatment (excess response 46%; 27% to 65%), and 12 of 21 with a pretreatment serum aspartate aminotransferase activity greater than 70 IU/l (excess response 46%; 16% to 76%). The combination of these factors predicted response with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 80%. Four of the 12 responders, who had all been infected for less than two years, also lost hepatitis B surface antigen. Treatment was well tolerated. CONCLUSIONS--Interferon alfa is effective in the treatment of a proportion of Europid men with chronic hepatitis B virus infection, who might be identified before treatment. Additional strategies are required to improve the rate of response.