Prediction of response to entecavir therapy in patients with HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B based on on-treatment HBsAg, HBeAg and HBV DNA levels


Neung Hwa Park, MD, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine, Ulsan University Hospital, 290-3 Jeonha-dong, Dong-gu, Ulsan 682-714, Korea. E-mail:


Summary.  Quantitative hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) assays are emerging as effective tools of on-treatment predictors of response to antiviral agents, in addition to monitoring serum HBV DNA levels. However, the dynamic relationship between quantitative HBsAg, as well as HBeAg and HBV DNA, and the predictability of subsequent clinical outcomes during entecavir (ETV) therapy remain unclear. Eighty-two patients with HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B (CHB) received ETV therapy for ≥3 years. Virologic response (VR) after 3 years of ETV therapy was achieved in 73 (89.0%) patients. Among baseline and on-treatment factors, on-treatment HBV DNA levels performed better with respect to the prediction of response than HBsAg and HBeAg levels. Especially, the performance of absolute values of HBV DNA with respect to response was superior to HBV DNA decline from the baseline. The best predictive value was an absolute HBV DNA level of 2.3 log10 IU/mL at month 6 (areas under the curve [AUROC], 0.977; 95% CI, 0.940–1.000; < 0.001). HBeAg seroconversion after 3 years of therapy was achieved in 26 (31.7%) patients. On-treatment HBeAg levels performed better with respect to the prediction of seroconversion than HBsAg and HBV DNA levels. The best cut-off value for the HBeAg level at month 12 for the prediction of seroconversion was 0.62 log10 PEIU/mL. Although the HBsAg level at baseline is often used to predict the antiviral potency of entecavir, on-treatment HBV DNA and HBeAg levels are more helpful for prediction of subsequent clinical outcomes in HBeAg-positive CHB patients with entecavir treatment.