Which medications in the drug class Interferons are used in the treatment of Hepatitis B?

Updated: Jun 08, 2021
  • Author: Nikolaos T Pyrsopoulos, MD, PhD, MBA, FACP, AGAF; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Interferons are naturally produced proteins with antiviral, antitumor, and immunomodulatory actions.

Peginterferon alfa 2a (Pegasys)

Peginterferon alfa-2a binds to cell surface receptors in a cascade of protein interactions, resulting in gene transcription. These stimulated genes inhibit viral replication in infected cells, cell proliferation, and immunomodulation. Peginterferon alfa-2a is indicated for adults with hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)–positive and HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B disease with compensated liver disease and evidence of viral replication and liver inflammation.

Peginterferon alfa-2a is also FDA approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, alone or in combination with ribavirin, in patients not previously treated with interferon alfa, and with compensated liver disease.

Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)

Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)

Interferon alfa-2b is a protein product manufactured by recombinant DNA technology. Its mechanism of antitumor activity is not clearly understood; however, direct antiproliferative effects against malignant cells and modulation of host immune response may play important roles.

The immunomodulatory effects of interferon alfa-2b include enhancement of cytolytic T-cell activity, stimulation of natural killer cell activity, amplification of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I protein on infected cells, and suppression of tumor cell proliferation. The direct antiviral activity of interferon alfa-2b activates viral ribonucleases and inhibits viral entry into cells and viral replication. A direct antifibrotic effect has been postulated.

Before initiation of therapy with interferon alfa-2b, perform tests to quantitate peripheral blood hemoglobin, platelets, granulocytes, hairy cells, and bone marrow hairy cells. Monitor the patient periodically (eg, monthly) during treatment to determine his/her response to therapy. If the patient's condition does not respond within 4 months, discontinue treatment.

If a response occurs, continue treatment until no further improvement is observed. Whether continued treatment is beneficial after that time remains unknown.

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