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Keywords:

  • adefovir;
  • initial virological response;
  • mutations;
  • resistance;
  • suboptimal response

Summary.  The aims of the present study were to assess initial virological response (IVR) to adefovir (ADV) treatment for chronic hepatitis B, to identify patients with suboptimal response and to determine the incidence of ADV-resistant mutants. All patients treated with ADV for at least 12 months were evaluated for virological response and ADV resistance. IVR was defined as a reduction ≥4 log10 IU/mL in hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA at month 6. Forty-two patients were analysed. Mean treatment duration was 23 ± 7 months; 50% had prior lamivudine (LAM) therapy (LAM resistance 62%); 88% were hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-negative; and 76% carried genotype D. IVR was seen in 40.5% of patients. Higher baseline ALT level was the only factor associated with IVR (P = 0.043). Patients with IVR achieved undetectable HBV-DNA at month 12 in 77% of cases compared with only 5% of those without IVR (P < 0.001). Five (12%) patients developed ADV-resistant mutations: rtN236T in four cases and one case with an rtV207L change, which has not been previously reported. This mutation was accompanied by viral rebound and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) flare. The cumulative probability of ADV-resistant mutations at 12 and 24 months was 5% and 17% respectively. IVR defined as a reduction ≥4 log10 IU/mL in HBV-DNA at month 6 is a useful tool to predict virological response at month 12 and to identify patients with suboptimal response to ADV. Cumulative probability of ADV resistance is higher than previously reported for nucleos(t)ide-naïve patients.