Clinical and histological outcome after hepatitis B e antigen to antibody seroconversion in children with chronic hepatitis B



Data regarding the outcome of children with chronic hepatitis B after seroconversion are scarce. We describe the long-term evolution of these patients. One hundred and three children with antibody against hepatitis B e antigen and normal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were followed for 0.6 to 12.5 years (mean, 6.3 years). Paired liver biopsies (before and after seroconversion) were available in 83 cases. Final biopsies were obtained 0.5 to 12.5 years (mean, 4.5 years) after seroconversion. ALT levels remained normal in most of the children (79%) throughout the follow-up. All children, except five who lost hepatitis B surface antigen, had serum viral DNA detected by polymerase chain reaction. When comparing baseline and final liver biopsies, a significant improvement (P < .001) was found in the histological activity index and in the necrosis, cytolysis, inflammation, and fibrosis scores. The histological diagnosis improvement in the final biopsy was significantly related (P< .001) to the time from seroconversion to the biopsy performance. All children had viral DNA on their final liver biopsy. In summary, seroconversion and ALT normalization are quite stable findings in children, and no differences in the long-term outcome between treated and untreated children were found. In light of the histological outcome, it seems unnecessary to perform a follow-up liver biopsy in these cases.