Background and Aim: Studies from hepatitis B virus endemic areas have shown less durable lamivudine-induced responses and have raised issues about the management of a post-treatment relapse.
Methods: From January 2000 to June 2004, all 51 patients (43 HBeAg-positive and eight HBeAg-negative) were retreated with lamivudine for at least 12 months. All had a post-treatment relapse after HBeAg responses (HBeAg loss/seroconversion) during the first therapy.
Results: During retreatment, HBeAg seroconversion occurred more frequently in those patients with HBeAg seroconversion than in those with HBeAg loss alone during prior lamivudine therapy (P = 0.001). On multivariate analysis, prior HBeAg seroconversion and early virological response (EVR) (≤ 2 months of retreatment) independently predicted HBeAg seroconversion (P = 0.012 and P = 0.004, respectively). With regard to virological breakthrough, only the time to virological response (> 2 months of retreatment) remained significant (P = 0.048). Among the HBeAg-negative patients, virological breakthrough occurred in only one patient with a late virological response.
Conclusions: EVR is a major predictor in determining a favorable response to lamivudine retreatment. Our observations suggest that lamivudine retreatment will provide more therapeutic gains in those patients with a prior HBeAg seroconversion than in those with HBeAg loss alone.