• ethnic group;
  • HBeAg-seroconversion;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • inactive carrier;
  • interferon-α


Whereas e-seroconversion represents the loss of hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAg) followed by gain of antibody to HBeAg (anti-HBe), ‘inactive chronic infection’ extends this concept to include e-seroconversion with decreased serum viral load and biochemical remission. These events must be well-characterized before treatment outcomes can be evaluated. We examined the rates of e-seroconversion and achievement of inactive chronic infection among children with chronic HBV infection. Children who were HBsAg positive >6 months were identified retrospectively between 1983 and 2008 from the Hospital for Sick Children Liver Clinic. Inactive chronic infection was defined as loss of HBeAg, serum ALT ≤40 IU/mL, and HBV DNA <10IU/mL. Both e-seroconversion and achievement of inactive chronic infection were characterized using survival analysis. The effect of transmission route, treatment, age at diagnosis, ethnicity, gender and baseline ALT on these rates was evaluated with univariate and multiple regression. Of 252 HBeAg-positive cases, 59.9% had HBV-infected mothers, 77% were Asian, and 33 received interferon-α. Untreated children were younger at last follow-up (mean 14.5 vs 17.6 years), had lower ALT (median 60 vs 116 IU/mL) and had shorter follow-up (6.6 vs 9.1 years, all P < 0.002) compared to treated children. Crude e-seroconversion rate was 41.7% over 0.519.1 years of follow-up, and this was not affected by transmission route (P = 0.93), gender (P = 0.62) nor treatment (P = 0.08). 49% achieved inactive chronic infection by age 19 years. Being non-Asian, age at diagnosis<3 years, and ALT ≥40 IU/mL were associated with a higher rate of e-seroconversion and achieving inactive chronic infection (P < 0.0001). Almost 50% of children achieved inactive chronic infection by early adulthood.