Response to tenofovir monotherapy in chronic hepatitis B patients with prior suboptimal response to entecavir


K. Rajender Reddy, MD, Professor of Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 2 Dulles, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. E-mail:


Summary.  Both entecavir (ETV) and tenofovir (TDF) are potent antiviral agents for hepatitis B virus (HBV). Suboptimal response (SOR) following antiviral therapy is associated with an increased risk of subsequent treatment failure and viral resistance. It remains unclear whether switching to TDF is a reasonable approach in patients with SOR to ETV treatment. This study was aimed to determine how HBV patients with SOR to ETV respond to TDF monotherapy. Data of patients with SOR to ETV (failure to achieve >1 log10 HBV-DNA reduction during the last 24 weeks of ETV treatment) who were switched to TDF monotherapy during 2005 and 2010 were reviewed. Treatment adherence was assessed by pill-count. Fourteen patients (2.9%) were identified from a total cohort of 482 ETV-treated patients. All 14 patients were Chinese and were infected with HBV genotype C (71%) or B (29%). Nine patients were men, and the median age was 41.5 years (19–64). Twelve were treatment naïve (one lamivudine- and one peginterferon-experienced patient); 85.7% were HBeAg positive. The median baseline HBV-DNA was 7.55 (5.30–9.40) log10 copies/mL, and 57% had abnormal serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels. Precore and/or basal core promoter mutations were detected in four patients, whereas no genotypic resistance was detected at baseline and before switching to TDF. The median duration of ETV treatment was 64.5 (26–126) weeks. The median HBV-DNA at the time of switching to TDF was 3.69 (3.00–4.90) log10 copies/mL. The median HBV-DNA reduction from baseline and during the last 6-month observation period prior to switching to TDF was 4.04 (0.51–6.06) log10 and 0.43 (−0.09–1.13) log10 copies/mL, respectively. After the switching to TDF, all 14 patients (100%) achieved undetectable HBV-DNA and ALT normalization within a median duration of 30 weeks. In 12 patients who were HBeAg positive, HBeAg seroconversion was observed in two patients after TDF treatment of 75- and 84-weeks duration. There was no virological breakthrough observed after switching to TDF with a median follow-up period of 50 (24–160) weeks. TDF treatment was safe and well tolerated. In conclusion, suboptimal response to ETV is rare (approximately 3%). TDF monotherapy is safe and very effective in the management of HBV patients with SOR to ETV.