Effects of interferon and adenine arabinoside treatment of hepatitis B virus infection on cellular immune responses

B. Hafkin, Richard B Pollard, M. L. Tiku, W. S. Robinson, T. C. Merigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Fifteen patients with chronic hepatitis B were treated with adenine arabinoside (Ara-A) or human leukocyte interferon (HLI). Cellular immune response to varicella zoster virus, and cytomegalovirus was measured by a lymphocyte blast made before, during, and after antiviral treatment. Unlike patients convalescing from acute hepatitis B, only 2 of 15 patients with chronic hepatitis B had significant blast transformation to hepatitis B surface antigen. One such response occurred during the pretreatment period of HLI therapy, and the other was in a patient undergoing low-dose (<10 5 U/kg per day) HLI therapy. Mononuclear cell cultures were tested for interferon production in the presence of hepatitis B surface antigen. Cells from only 1 of 15 patients produced detectable levels of interferon. In contrast, all of these patients had normal cellular immune responses to herpesvirus antigens. Transformation responses to herpes antigens decreased three- to fivefold after patients were treated with >10 5 U of HLI per kg per day. Antiviral therapy with <10 5 U of HLI per kg per day or Ara-A did not produce a detectable depression of transformation response. Ara-A produced marked lymphocytopenia and a marked lymphocyte fragility after 5 or more days of therapy. In vitro Ara-A was toxic to lymphocytes at concentrations as low as 0.5 μg/ml. These changes in lymphocyte parameters may affect the outcome of antiviral therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-787
Number of pages7
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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