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Keywords:

  • HBeAg-positive;
  • HBV ;
  • HDV ;
  • hepatitis delta

Abstract

Background and Aims

The presence of the hepatitis B virus (HBV)-eAg in patients with hepatitis B is associated with higher HBV replication and with an increased risk to develop liver-related clinical endpoints defined as liver related death, liver transplantation, development of hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatic decompensation. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of HBeAg in patients co-infected with the hepatitis D virus (HDV).

Methods

We studied virological markers of HBV and HDV infection and as well as biochemical and clinical features of liver disease in a cohort of 534 anti-HDV-positive patients. In addition, we compared the clinical long-term outcome of HBeAg-positive HDV-infected patients with HBeAg-negative control patients matched for age, gender and baseline-MELD score.

Results

HBeAg-positive hepatitis delta was detected in 71 of 534 patients (13.3%). HBeAg positivity was associated with a higher biochemical disease activity and higher HBsAg levels in HDV co-infected patients. Sixty one per cent of the HBeAg-positive HDV-infected patients presented with HBV DNA levels below 2000 IU/ml, at least once during follow-up. Both HBeAg-positive and -negative patients showed a similar severe clinical long-term course with about half of the patients developing a liver-related clinical complication after a median follow-up period of 51 months (range: 9–193 months).

Conclusions

HBV DNA levels are low in both HBeAg-negative and HBeAg-positive patients suggesting suppressive effects of HDV on HBV irrespective of the phase of HBV infection. The clinical long-term outcome of HBeAg-positive patients is not different to HBeAg-negative patients infected with the HDV.