11] Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea  The first two authors contributed equally to this work.
21] Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea  Institute of Gastroenterology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea  Liver Cirrhosis Clinical Research Center, Seoul, Korea.
31] Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea  Institute of Gastroenterology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea  Brain Korea 21 Project for Medical Science, Seoul, Korea.
OBJECTIVES:In the era of antiviral therapy, the prognostic significance of serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA level as a biological gradient substantially diminished, as most patients can achieve complete virological response (CVR). We aimed to investigate the predictive roles of liver stiffness (LS) for liver-related events (LREs) among patients with CVR.
METHODS:We analyzed 192 patients with chronic HBV infection who achieved CVR (defined as HBV DNA <20 IU/ml) through entecavir therapy. LS values at CVR were measured using transient elastography. LREs were defined as any cirrhotic complication, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver-related mortality.
RESULTS:The median age of the patients was 49 years, and 134 (69.8%) were male. The median LS value at CVR was 8.8 kPa. During follow-up, LREs occurred in 25 (13.0%) patients. When the population was stratified into three groups (<8.0 kPa, 8.0-13.0 kPa, and >13.0 kPa), cumulative LRE incidences increased significantly in association with LS values (log-rank test, P=0.001). Patients with an LS value >13.0 kPa (hazard ratio (HR)=12.336, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.335-114.010; P=0.027) and 8.0-13.0 kPa (HR=8.832, 95% CI 1.092-71.432; P=0.041) were at significantly greater risk compared with those with an LS value <8.0 kPa. On multivariate analysis, age and LS values were seen to be independent predictors (all P<0.05). When LS values were incorporated into the REACH-B scoring model instead of serum HBV DNA level, a better predictive performance was seen compared with a conventional approach (areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.814 vs. 0.629, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS:LS values at CVR are useful for predicting forthcoming LRE development. Thus, in the era of potent antiviral therapy, tailored surveillance strategies might be established based upon LS values at CVR.