OBJECTIVES--To test the effectiveness of and tolerance to interferon-alpha 2b (INFa2b) in association with plasma exchanges for the treatment of polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) related to hepatitis B virus (HBV). METHODS--A prospective, non blinded, multicentre trial was carried out in which patients with multisystemic HBV-related PAN were included. Each patient received the association of INFa2b and plasma exchanges. The end point of the study was control of the disease (recovery or remission) or death. RESULTS--Six patients were included in the study. Each patient had histopathological or arteriographic evidence of vasculitis and was infected with actively replicating HBV. All patients were alive at the end of the study and no longer presented clinical or laboratory evidence of systemic vasculitis. HBeAg/anti-HBeAb seroconversion was observed in four patients (66.6%) and HBsAg/anti-HBsAb in 3/6 (50%). Two patients are still being treated with INFa2b because of chronic active hepatitis. CONCLUSIONS--It is considered that this new therapeutic approach to HBV-related PAN effectively cured systemic vasculitis and was associated with control of HBV infections. Antiviral therapy may have a role to play as the first line treatment regime of virus-induced vasculitis.
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