Hepatitis D; Causes, Prognosis, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Treatment options

The genome of the hepatitis D virus does not have a specific enzyme to modulate with drugs, and to date, there’s no specific treatment against the virus. Luckily, by taking care of hepatitis B infections, we can also succeed in treating hepatitis D. Thus, treatment is usually aimed at treating overlapping infections and providing supportive measures according to the patient’s symptoms. In some cases, rapid deterioration of the liver function is a sign of fulminant liver failure, and in these cases, liver transplantation is the most likely treatment choice.

New therapies to treat hepatitis D infections are under investigation, and there’s no current vaccine against hepatitis D. Instead, we can be immunized against hepatitis B, which prevents an over infection.

Similar to hepatitis B, hepatitis D also has an acute and chronic stage of the disease. Thus, when a patient is found in the acute phase, and he’s not at risk of fulminant hepatitis, doctors usually decide to wait for 6 months to evaluate if the disease clears with the treatment against hepatitis B or becomes chronic. After that time, and when the disease continues, treatment can be started with interferon-alpha therapy. It is continuer for up to 1 year with close monitoring of the patient and serum levels of hepatitis B antigens and HDV RNA.

References

Abbas, Z., & Afzal, R. (2013). Life cycle and pathogenesis of hepatitis D virus: A review. World journal of hepatology, 5(12), 666.

Bahcecioglu, I. H., & Sahin, A. (2017). Treatment of delta hepatitis: today and in the future-a review. Infectious Diseases, 49(4), 241-250.

Vlachogiannakos, J., & Papatheodoridis, G. V. (2020). New epidemiology of hepatitis delta. Liver International, 40, 48-53.

Written by Martin Davis