Oral prostaglandin (PGE2) therapy for chronic viral hepatitis B and C
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The cytoprotective effects of prostaglandins have been utilized in the prevention of hepatitis B virus reactivation after liver transplantation. This pilot study evaluated the effects of oral prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in chronic viral hepatitis B and C. Twenty patients with chronic hepatitis B and 20 patients with chronic hepatitis C received 4mg day-1 PGE2 for 6 months. The lymphocyte antiviral enzyme 2',5'-oligoadenylate synthetase (2',5'-OAS) and peripheral blood monocyte procoagulant activity (PCA) were measured before, during and after the treatment. Three of 20 hepatitis B and five of 20 hepatitis C patients withdrew from the study. Eight of 17 hepatitis B patients responded: in seven of these eight patients, serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels normalized; loss of viral replication was sustained in all eight patients; and seroconversion from hepatitis Be antigen (HBeAg) to hepatitis Be antibody (HBeAb) positivity occurred in seven patients over the 48-week duration of this study. In 14 of the 15 hepatitis C patients, hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA remained detectable and the serum ALT levels remained elevated. 2',5'-OAS levels and PCA values did not correlate with other markers of response to PGE2 therapy in either chronic hepatitis B or C. In summary, PGE2 was associated with sustained loss of viral replication in 47% of chronic hepatitis B patients; no beneficial effects were apparent in chronic hepatitis C.