The spectrum of HBV/HCV coinfection: epidemiology, clinical characteristics, viralinteractions and management
Monoinfection with either hepatitis B (HBV) or C virus (HCV) represents one of the major causes of chronic liver disease globally. However, in endemic areas a substantial number of patients are infected with both viruses mainly as a result of the common routes of transmission. Numerous studies have demonstrated that dually infected patients carry a greater risk of advanced liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma compared with monoinfected patients. The choice of treatment is based on the virological profile of each patient taking into account the dominant virus pattern. In predominant HCV, standard combination treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin has proven equally effective in HBV/HCV-coinfected patients as well as in HCV-monoinfected patients. Strikingly, approximately 60% of patients with inactive HBV infection before HCV treatment may present HBV reactivation while others experience hepatitis B surface antigen seroconversion after clearing HCV, demonstrating the complexity of the interaction between the two viruses during the follow up. The therapeutic strategies for the predominant HBV dually infected patients are more vague, although high genetic barrier nucleos(t)ide analogues play an indisputable role. Finally, the recently approved combination treatments for chronic hepatitis C containing direct-acting antivirals may definitely change the treatment protocols in the future although there is no experience with these drugs in dually infected patients until today.
Keywords Hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, occult hepatitis B virus, pegylated interferon, ribavirin
Ann Gastroenterol 2015; 28 (2): 221-228