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Hepatology. 2013 Dec;58(6):1888-96. doi: 10.1002/hep.26549. Epub 2013 Oct 17.

Off-therapy durability of response to entecavir therapy in hepatitis B e antigen-negative chronic hepatitis B patients.

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Liver Research Unit, Linkou Medical Center, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan; College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taipei, Taiwan.


The optimal duration of nucelos(t)ide analog (Nuc) treatment in hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-negative patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is unknown. The Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) guidelines recommend that treatment can be discontinued if undetectable HBV-DNA has been documented on three occasions ≥ 6 months apart. This study aimed to test this stopping rule in HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients treated with entecavir (ETV). Ninety-five patients (39 cirrhosis) were treated with ETV for a median of 721 (395-1,762) days before stopping therapy and were then monitored with serum HBV DNA and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) at least every 3 months. Within 1 year after stopping ETV therapy, "clinical relapse" (an episode of ALT elevation >2 × upper limit of normal plus HBV-DNA >2,000 IU/mL) occurred in 43 (45.3%) of the 95 patients. Of the 39 cirrhosis patients, 17 (43.6%) relapsed and one (2.6%) developed decompensation. The median duration until relapse was 230 days (74.4% >6 months). Logistic regression analysis showed that baseline HBV-DNA ≤ 2 × 10(5) IU/mL was the only significant independent factor for sustained response. The 1-year relapse rate was 29% in patients with a baseline HBV DNA ≤ 2 × 10(5) IU/mL versus 53% in those with HBV DNA >2 × 10(5) IU/mL (P = 0.027). For the latter, consolidation therapy >64 weeks reduced the relapse rate to 33.3% in patients without cirrhosis.


With an overall 1-year relapse rate of 45% and 29% in those with a baseline serum HBV DNA ≤ 2 × 10(5) IU/mL, the APASL stopping rule for HBeAg-negative CHB patients with proper off-therapy monitoring is adequate even in patients with cirrhosis. Consolidation therapy >64 weeks seems more appropriate for those with higher baseline HBV DNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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