• chronic hepatitis B;
  • drug resistance;
  • HBV;
  • rtA200V

Summary.  To investigate the efficacy of long-term lamivudine (3TC) and adefovir dipivoxil (ADV) combination therapy in 3TC-resistant chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infected patients, we analysed 28 3TC-resistant patients treated with the combination therapy during 47 months (range, 9–75). At 12, 24, 36, and 48 months, the rates of virological response with undetectable HBV DNA (≤2.6 log copies/mL) were 56, 80, 86, and 92%, respectively. Among 17 hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive patients, HBeAg disappeared in 24% at 12 months, 25% at 24 months, 62% at 36 months, and 88% at 48 months. When HBV genotypes were compared, patients with genotype B achieved virological response significantly more rapidly than those with genotype C (= 0.0496). One patient developed virological breakthrough after 54 months, and sequence analysis of HBV obtained from the patient was performed. An rtA200V mutation was present in the majority of HBV clones, in addition to the 3TC-resistant mutations of rtL180M+M204V. The rtN236T ADV-resistant mutation was observed in only 25% clones. In vitro analysis showed that the rtA200V mutation recovered the impaired replication capacity of the clone with the rtL180M+M204V mutations and induced resistance to ADV. Moreover, rtT184S and rtS202C, which are known entecavir-resistant mutations, emerged in some rtL180M+M204V clones without rtA200V or rtN236T. In conclusion, 3TC+ADV combination therapy was effective for most 3TC-resistant patients, especially with genotype B HBV, but the risk of emergence of multiple drug-resistant strains with long-term therapy should be considered. The mutation rtA200V with rtL180M+M204V may be sufficient for failure of 3TC+ADV therapy.