Background: Until now, various types of combined therapy with nucleotide analogs and pegylated interferon (Peg-INF) in patients with hepatitis B patients have been tried. However, studies regarding the benefits of de novo combination, late-add on, and sequential treatment are very limited. The objective of the current study was to identify the efficacy of sequential treatment of Peg-INF after short-term antiviral treatment. Methods: Between June 2010 and June 2015, hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive patients (n = 162) received Peg-IFN for 48 weeks (mono-treatment group, n = 81) and entecavir (ETV) for 12 weeks with a 48-week course of Peg-IFN starting at week 5 of ETV therapy (sequential treatment group, n = 81). The primary endpoint was HBeAg seroconversion at the end of follow-up period after the 24-week treatment. The primary endpoint was analyzed using Chi-square test, Fisher's exact test, and regression analysis. Results: HBeAg seroconversion rate (18.2% vs. 18.2%, t = 0.03, P = 1.000) and seroclearance rate (19.7% vs. 19.7%, t = 0.03, P = 1.000) were same in both mono-treatment and sequential treatment groups. The rate of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) normalization (45.5% vs. 54.5%, t = 1.12, P = 0.296) and serum hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA <2000 U/L (28.8% vs. 28.8%, t = 0.10, P = 1.000) was not different in sequential and mono-treatment groups at 24 weeks of Peg-INF. Viral response rate (HBeAg seroconversion and serum HBV-DNA <2000 U/L) was not different in the two groups (12.1% vs. 16.7%, t = 1.83, P = 0.457). Baseline HBV-DNA level (7 log10U/ml vs. 7.5 log10U/ml, t = 1.70, P = 0.019) and hepatitis B surface antigen titer (3.6 log10U/ml vs. 4.0 log10U/ml, t = 2.19, P = 0.020) were lower and predictors of responder in mono-treatment and sequential treatment groups, respectively. Conclusions: The current study shows no differences in HBeAg seroconversion rate, ALT normalization, and HBV-DNA levels between mono-therapy and sequential therapy regimens.
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