Risk factors for long-term persistence of serum hepatitis B surface antigen following acute hepatitis B virus infection in Japanese adults


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

  • Supported by Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare grant H21-003 and Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology grant 22790679.


The proportion of patients who progress to chronicity following acute hepatitis B (AHB) varies widely worldwide. Moreover, the association between viral persistence after AHB and hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes in adults remains unclear. A nationwide multicenter study was conducted throughout Japan to evaluate the influence of clinical and virological factors on chronic outcomes in patients with AHB. For comparing factors between AHB patients with viral persistence and those with self-limited infection, 212 AHB patients without human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection were observed in 38 liver centers until serum hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) disappeared or a minimum of 6 months in cases where HBsAg persisted. The time to disappearance of HBsAg was significantly longer for genotype A patients than that of patients infected with non-A genotypes. When chronicity was defined as the persistence of HBsAg positivity for more than 6 or 12 months, the rate of progression to chronicity was higher in patients with genotype A, although many cases caused by genotype A were prolonged cases of AHB, rather than chronic infection. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed only genotype A was independently associated with viral persistence following AHB. A higher peak level of HBV DNA and a lower peak of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were characteristics of AHB caused by genotype A. Treatment with nucleotide analogs (NAs) did not prevent progression to chronic infection following AHB overall. Subanalysis suggested early NA initiation may enhance the viral clearance. Conclusion: Genotype A was an independent risk factor for progression to chronic infection following AHB. Our data will be useful in elucidating the association between viral persistence after AHB, host genetic factors, and treatment with NAs in future studies. (Hepatology 2014;58:89–97)