Five patients with chronic hepatitis B were treated with 8-day courses of leukocyte (alpha) interferon (5 X 10(6) U/day) and with 8-day courses of recombinant fibroblast (betaser) interferon at dosages of 5 X 10(6), 35 X 10(6), and 105 X 10(6) U/day. Inhibition of hepatitis B virus replication as evidenced by a decrease in DNA polymerase (DNAP) activity was seen during all treatment courses. Equivalent reduction in DNAP was seen from the low-dose alpha and beta ser regimens, but beta ser interferon at 35 X 10(6) U/day achieved a significantly greater decrease in DNAP activity than did the low-dose regimens. In no patient, however, was permanent loss of DNAP noted. Because of dose-limiting toxicity, only two patients were escalated to the 105 X 10(6)-U/day dosage level. Transient proteinuria was noted in two patients while they were receiving interferon. This has not been noted in other patients receiving this preparation and could not be explained by the development of anti-interferon antibodies. This study has defined an appropriate dosage for future longer-term trials of this agent alone and in combination with other antivirals for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B
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