Study Objectives: To assess the efficacy of alpha-interferon therapy in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related glomerulonephritis.
Design: Prospective, nonrandomized study.
Patients: Five patients with persistence of hepatitis B surface antigen, hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and HBV DNA in serum for at least 6 months and histologic changes of chronic hepatitis on liver biopsy as well as persistent proteinuria of greater than 2 g/d and histologic changes of glomerulonephritis on renal biopsy.
Interventions: Patients received a 4-month course of recombinant human alpha-interferon (alfa-2b) beginning at a dose of 5 million units administered subcutaneously each day.
Results: Serum levels of HBV DNA decreased in all patients and fell to undetectable levels during treatment in four of five patients. In the four responding patients, serum HBeAg disappeared, aminotransferases fell into the normal range, and a follow-up liver biopsy showed an improvement in the hepatocyte necrosis and inflammation. Urine protein excretion also decreased during treatment. In the four responding patients, urine protein excretion gradually fell to less than 1 g/d and serum albumin levels rose into the normal range. Resolution of the biochemical and serologic evidence of chronic hepatitis and glomerulonephritis was accompanied by disappearance of signs and symptoms of liver and kidney disease.
Conclusions: A high proportion of patients with HBV-related glomerulonephritis will respond to a 4-month course of alpha-interferon with a clinical, biochemical, and serologic remission.