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J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Nov;42(11):5036-40.

Longitudinal study of hepatitis activity and viral replication before and after HBeAg seroconversion in chronic hepatitis B patients infected with genotypes B and C.

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Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam Rd., Hong Kong.


The aims of this study were to compare chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients with genotypes B and C for the probability of HBeAg seroconversion, hepatitis activity, and viral replication before and after HBeAg seroconversion and to compare the prevalence of core promoter and precore mutations. A total of 180 asymptomatic Chinese patients with CHB were monitored for a median of 53.8 months, and 38 patients with cirrhosis-related complications were studied. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA levels were measured in 16 patients with HBeAg seroconversion at 3 months before, during, and 3 months after HBeAg seroconversion and in all patients at the last follow-up. Hepatitis B genotypes and core promoter and precore mutations were determined. Compared to patients with genotype C (n = 109), patients with subtype Ba (n = 69) had a higher rate of anti-HBe positivity on presentation (P = 0.05). HBeAg-positive patients with subtype Ba had a higher cumulative rate of HBeAg seroconversion than patients with genotype C (P = 0.02). However, there were no differences between the two groups with regard to the median HBV DNA levels before, during, and after HBeAg seroconversion; the probability of having persistently normal or elevated aminotransferase levels; and the median HBV DNA levels and liver biochemistry at the last follow-up. There was no difference in the prevalence of genotypes and core promoter and precore mutations between patients with and without cirrhosis-related complications. Though patients with subtype Ba had earlier HBeAg seroconversion, the liver biochemistry, HBV DNA levels in different phases of the disease, and the probability of development of cirrhosis-related complications were the same with genotypes Ba and C.

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