Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 9658616
Acta Gastroenterol. Belg. 1998 Apr-Jun;61(2):228-33
Vaccine therapy is now used in various infectious diseases. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) leads to chronic infection in around 5% of patients with a high risk of chronic active hepatitis which may result in cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The partial efficacy of antiviral therapies (40% of sustained inhibition of HBV replication), their cost, their possible side effects and the immune-mediated pathology of HBV infection explain the need of new immune therapies in treating HBV infection. Experimental and clinical evidences suggest the usefulness of vaccine therapy in HBV chronic infection. In a pilot and opened study, forty-six consecutive chronic HBsAg carriers with chronic hepatitis and detectable serum HBV DNA were given 3 standard injections of the GenHevac B vaccine at one month interval. Six months after the first injection, 12 patients (26.1%) had undetectable HBV DNA while 8 others showed significant decrease (more than 50%) in HBV DNA titers. Six of these 12 responders received a standard course of alpha-Interferon (5 MU thrice weekly subcutaneously for 4 months) and all six had still undetectable HBV replication at the end of follow-up. Among the 34 non responders to vaccine, 20 were given alpha-interferon and 2 the monophosphate derivate of Vidarabine: 12 of these 22 patients stopped HBV replication and in all 12, vaccine therapy had induced a significant decrease of HBV replication before the antiviral treatment with a decrease of mean serum HBV DNA from 392 pg/ml before to 217 pg/ml after vaccine therapy. In an ongoing controlled study, using the same vaccine schedule, serum HBV DNA disappeared more frequently after 6 months, in patients who were given a preS2/S vaccine (7/35) than in patients who received a S vaccine (1/21) or no vaccine (1/32). In responders to vaccine, an induction of specific proliferative responses was observed and this may contribute to the potential efficacy of anti-HBV vaccine therapy. No side-effect or vaccine-induced escape-mutants occurred during the follow-up. In summary, serum HBV DNA disappeared in 28 of the 46 patients (60.9%) who were given vaccine therapy, with (64.2%) or without (55.6%) Interferon. These results are not different at 6 months and at the end of follow-up from those of 43 HBsAg chronic carriers who were given only an antiviral treatment. Active immune therapy against HBV appears efficient and less expensive than antiviral therapies in stopping HBV replication. Such results need to be confirmed by the completed results of our controlled, randomized trial which is now conducted in our unit.