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Abstract

We determined the clinical outcome of hepatitis e antigen (HBeAg)-negative chronic hepatitis B patients treated with long-term nucleos(t)ide analog therapy starting with lamivudine. We evaluated 201 such patients treated for 3.8 ± 1.4 years and 2 historical similar cohorts: 1 treated with interferon-alfa (n = 209) and 1 untreated (n = 195). Virological or biochemical remission rate at 48 months under lamivudine was 34% or 36%, respectively, whereas adefovir was administered in 79 patients with virological–biochemical breakthroughs or no response. Of the lamivudine-treated patients, 4 died, 1 underwent a transplantation, and another 8 developed major events, all having advanced fibrosis at baseline and all but 1 having experienced breakthroughs or no response. At 5 years, survival was 96%, and major event–free survival was 93%. The major event–free survival was significantly better in patients with than in those without virological remission under lamivudine. At the end of follow-up, both survival and major event–free survival were independently associated with type of and response to treatment, being significantly better in patients under long-term antiviral therapy or interferon sustained responders than in interferon non-sustained responders or untreated cases (5-year survival: 96% or 98% vs. 88% or 90%, respectively). In conclusion, in HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B, long-term nucleos(t)ide analog therapy starting with lamivudine significantly improves survival and reduces the risk of major complications, compared with interferon non-sustained responders or untreated patients. In such patients with advanced fibrosis, close follow-up for lamivudine resistance and prompt onset of additional antiviral therapy is required or the ab initio use of agent(s) with low resistance rates should be considered. (HEPATOLOGY 2005;42:121–129.)