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Hepatology. 2001 Aug;34(2):411-6.

Lamivudine treatment is beneficial in patients with severely decompensated cirrhosis and actively replicating hepatitis B infection awaiting liver transplantation: a comparative study using a matched, untreated cohort.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0538, USA.


Uncontrolled studies have suggested a beneficial effect of lamivudine in patients with decompensated cirrhosis caused by replicating hepatitis B virus (HBV). We analyzed the outcome of lamivudine treatment in 23 consecutive patients with severely decompensated HBV-cirrhosis defined as a Child-Pugh-Turcotte (CPT) score of > or =10, and compared with a historical untreated control group of 23 patients matched for age, gender, and baseline CPT score. Significant clinical response, defined as a decrease in the CPT score by > or =3 points, was observed in 14 of 23 (60.9%) treated patients versus none of the controls (P <.0001). The median change in CPT scores was -3.0 (range, -6 to +3) in the treated group versus +1.0 in the controls (range, -1 to +2) (P =.016). Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) was performed in 34.8% of treated patients (median, 3.5; range, 1-32 months), versus 73.9% of controls (median, 3.0; range, 1-14 months) (P =.04). Excluding transplanted patients, there were no deaths in the treated group versus 6 deaths in the control group (P =.009). Time to death or OLT was significantly longer in treated patients than in controls (P <.001). Two patients developed lamivudine resistance after 9 and 12 months, respectively. Our results suggest that lamivudine significantly improves hepatic function in over half of the patients with decompensated cirrhosis and replicating HBV, and may confer a survival advantage. However, the small sample size and the use of a retrospective control cohort preclude drawing definitive conclusions. Expedited OLT remains the only viable treatment for lamivudine nonresponders.

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