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Hepat Res Treat. 2011;2011:524027. doi: 10.1155/2011/524027. Epub 2011 Oct 30.

The role of liver fibrosis assessment in the management of patients with chronic hepatitis B infection: lessons learned from a single centre experience.

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1
Liver Center, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 110 Francis Street, Suite 4A, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS:

Assess the clinical utility of the Prati criteria and normal ALT (<40‚ÄČIU/L) in a cohort of patients with chronic hepatitis B infection (CHB).

METHODS:

Serology, radiology, and histology were obtained in 140 patients with CHB.

RESULTS:

HBeAg(+) group: 7 patients (7/56-12% HBeAg(+) group) misclassified as "immunotolerant", with HBV DNA > 6 log copies/ml and normal ALT, who in fact had moderate/severe fibrosis on liver biopsy. HBeAg(-) group: 10 patients with normal ALT and moderate/severe fibrosis on liver biopsy; 4 of these patients had >3 log copies/ml HBV DNA levels and 6 patients misclassified as "inactive carriers" with negative HBV DNA levels normal ALT and moderate/severe fibrosis (6/84-7% HBeAg(-) group). Two male HBeAg(+) and three male HBeAg(-) patients with ALT between 20 and 30 IU/L and moderate/severe fibrosis on liver biopsy would have been further mischaracterised using the Prati criteria for normal ALT. Age and ethnic group were more important predictors of moderate/severe fibrosis in multivariate analysis.

CONCLUSION:

HBeAg status, age, ethnic origin with longitudinal assessment of LFTs and viral load should be studied in patients with "normal ALT" at the upper end of normal range (ALT 20-40 IU/L) to appropriately classify patients and identify patients for liver fibrosis assessment to inform treatment decisions.

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