Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Sep;104(9):2206-13. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.248. Epub 2009 Jun 2.

Histological disease in Asian-Americans with chronic hepatitis B, high hepatitis B virus DNA, and normal alanine aminotransferase levels.

Author information

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94304, USA.



At present there is no clear consensus on how patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB), high serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA, and normal alanine aminotransferase (NLALT) levels should be managed. This study hypothesizes that a significant proportion of such patients may have histological disease.


We carried out a retrospective study of 101 consecutive treatment-naive patients with CHB who underwent liver biopsies at a community gastroenterology clinic and had high HBV DNA and NLALT (< or = 40 U/l) levels at the time of biopsy. All patients were Asians. ALT levels were observed for a period of time before liver biopsy and were used to classify patients into two groups, namely those with only NLALT levels and those with fluctuating ALT (FLALT) levels. All patients had at least two ALT measurements during this period of time. Significant histology was defined as stage > or = 2 fibrosis or stage 1 fibrosis plus grade > or = 2 inflammation using the Batts-Ludwig scoring system.


In patients with NLALT levels, the proportions of those with significant histology were 0, 22, and 45% for age < or = 35, 36-50, and >50 years, respectively (n=11, n=27, n=19; P=0.033). In patients who had FLALT levels, the corresponding proportions were 22, 42, and 69% (n=9, n=22, n=13; P=0.091). After adjustments for gender, hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) status, and mean pre-biopsy HBV DNA levels, significant predictors of histological disease were older age (odds ratio (OR)=6.2 for age 36-50 years and OR=17.6 for age >50 years compared with age < or = 35 years, P=0.041 and P=0.003, respectively) and FLALT levels (OR=3.6, P=0.008). Sub-analysis of patients with NLALT levels using lower cutoffs (30 U/l for men and 19 U/l for women) showed similar trends.


Patients with CHB, high HBV DNA, and NLALT levels and aged more than 35 years or those with FLALT levels may have significant histological disease (22-70%).

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk