Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation and School of Medicine, Tzu Chi University, Hualien, Taiwan.
Several anti-viral drugs are approved for the treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. However, whether quantitative hepatitis B surface antigen (qHBsAg) can predict the therapeutic response during long-term entecavir treatment remains unclear.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Fifty-five chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients who received entecavir for more than 2 years were enrolled. The serum qHBsAg level was measured by HBsAg II quant immunoassay. A significant decline in the qHBsAg level was defined as > 1 log reduction from baseline to 6 months of entecavir treatment.
Of the 55 patients (41 males and 14 females with a mean age of 48.3 ± 11.4 years), 23 patients were positive for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg). The median treatment period was 34 months, and ranged from 26 months to 43 months. A total of 288 serum samples were used to determine the qHBsAg levels. At year 3 of entecavir therapy, one (1.8%) patient had HBsAg seroclearance. A high qHBsAg level was defined as greater than 10,000 IU/mL. Patients with a high baseline qHBsAg level had a lower rate of virologic response at year 1 (37.5% vs. 89.7%, p < 0.001) and year 2 (56.2% vs. 94.9%, p = 0.001). In this study population, 14.5% had a significant decline of the qHBsAg level. A significant decline could not predict HBeAg loss in HBeAg-positive or virologic response in all patients.
The baseline serum qHBsAg level can predict virologic response in entecavir-treated CHB patients. However, a significant decline in the qHBsAg level cannot predict serologic or virologic response of entecavir treatment.