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Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 Dec;95(12):3547-51.

Risk factors for active liver disease in HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B virus-infected patients.

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Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin.



HBeAg-negative patients constitute approximately 70% of all chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections in Southeast Asia, and some of these patients continue to suffer from active disease. We aimed to study the risk of hepatitis relapse in chronic HBV-infected patients with negative HBeAg and the predictor(s) of relapses.


This was a retrospective analysis of patients carrying HBsAg but lacking HBeAg. Patients recruited were required to have been followed for > or = 12 months with a minimum of three blood samples available for analysis. Patient demographic data, liver biochemistry, and HBV serology were analyzed in relation to relapses of hepatitis. Relapse was defined as an abrupt elevation of ALT > 200 IU/L or > 3-fold previous levels, whichever was higher.


In a period of 3 months, 317 patients seen at the Hepatitis Clinic at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong were recruited. The median duration of follow-up was 34 months. On initial consultation, 111 (35.0%) patients had elevated ALT (>60 IU/L). Overall, 57 (18.0%) patients developed at least one relapse, including 37 (33.3%) patients with elevated ALT and 20 (9.7%) patients with normal ALT at the first visit. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that elevated ALT level at first presentation (odds ratio 4.17, 95% confidence interval 2.24-7.75) and male gender (odds ratio 2.83, 95% confidence interval 1.23-6.49) were the two independent factors associated with a higher risk of hepatitis relapse. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of a single ALT test for hepatitis relapse were 64.9%, 71.5%, 33.3%, and 90.3%, respectively.


HBeAg-negative HBV carriers with normal ALT levels have a low risk of hepatitis relapse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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