Centre de Recherche Biomédicale Bichat-Beaujon (CRB3), INSERM U-773 and Service d'Hépatologie Hôpital Beaujon APHP, Université Paris-Diderot, 92110 Clichy, France. Electronic address: email@example.com.
BACKGROUND & AIMS:
Little is currently known about the association between serum HBsAg or HBV DNA levels and the severity of liver disease in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients. Therefore, we investigated these relationships in a large cohort of unselected, well-characterized, treatment-naïve CHB patients.
CHB patients were assessed at the Hôpital Beaujon in Paris, France, between 2000 and 2008. Serum samples and liver biopsies were obtained on the same day. HBsAg, HBV DNA, and HBV genotype were investigated using commercial diagnostic assays and liver histology was scored using the METAVIR system.
406 patients were included in this cross-sectional study. Serum HBsAg and HBV DNA levels in hepatitis B e antigen-positive (HBeAg[+]) patients showed strong correlation (r=0.44, p<0.0001), as did serum HBsAg levels and fibrosis severity (r=0.43, p<0.0001). HBeAg(+) patients with moderate to severe fibrosis exhibited significantly lower serum HBsAg and HBV DNA levels compared with patients with no or mild fibrosis. Modeling analysis suggested a serum HBsAg cutoff of 3.85 log IU.mL(-1) would provide a theoretical sensitivity of 100% (95% CI: 0-100), theoretical specificity of 86% (95% CI: 50-100), and a negative predictive value of 100% (95% CI: 67-100) in HBeAg(+) patients infected with HBV genotype B or C.
We found an association between low serum HBsAg levels and moderate to severe fibrosis in HBeAg(+) CHB patients. Furthermore, we describe a serum HBsAg cutoff for the prediction of fibrosis severity in CHB patients infected with HBV genotype B or C.