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Liver Int. 2018 Oct;38(10):1751-1759. doi: 10.1111/liv.13705. Epub 2018 Mar 12.

Serum alanine aminotransferase level and liver-related mortality in patients with chronic hepatitis B: A large national cohort study.

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
2
Department of Preventive Medicine, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
3
Clinical Research Center, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
4
Department of Medical Education and Humanities, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level has been used to identify at-risk patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) who need antiviral therapy. However, the level associated with increased liver-related mortality requiring active treatment is still unclear.

METHODS:

We used a Health Examination Cohort of the National Health Insurance Service of Korea that included approximately 0.5 million individuals aged 40-79 years. In total, 12 486 patients with CHB and no other concurrent liver disease were enrolled, and patients' liver-related mortality, including that owing to liver cancer, was investigated over 9 years.

RESULTS:

The serum ALT level was correlated positively with liver-related mortality. The rates in men were 0.14, 0.17, 0.24, 0.57, 0.63 and 0.85 per 100 person-years (%) for serum ALT levels of <20, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-79 and ≥80 U/L, respectively, and the corresponding liver-related mortality rates in women were 0.03%, 0.09%, 0.12%, 0.63%, 0.65% and 0.32%. In patients with ALT levels of 40-79 U/L, the liver-related mortality rates were 0.60% in men and 0.64% in women, which were similar to the overall mortality rate of age- and sex-matched subjects without CHB (0.69%). The best cut-off values for liver-related mortality prediction were >34 U/L in men and >30 U/L in women.

CONCLUSIONS:

The liver-related mortality rate increased significantly, even in CHB patients with relatively low serum ALT levels. Careful monitoring or earlier antiviral therapy should be considered for patients aged >40 years with serum ALT levels above the upper limit of normal.

KEYWORDS:

alanine transaminase; chronic hepatitis B; hepatocellular carcinoma; mortality

PMID:
29377574
DOI:
10.1111/liv.13705

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