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Keywords:

  • biomarkers;
  • HBV ;
  • non-invasive;
  • transient elastography;
  • treatment

Abstract

Liver biopsy, which was traditionally considered to be the gold standard for the staging of fibrosis, has been challenged in the past decade by non-invasive techniques. These techniques rely on two distinct but complementary approaches: a ‘biological’ approach, based on the quantification of biomarkers of fibrosis in serum, and a ‘physical’ approach, based on the measurement of liver stiffness using elastography-based technologies. Advantages of serum biomarkers include their high applicability (>95%) and good reproducibility. However, as none are liver specific their results can be influenced by comorbid conditions (risk of false positive results with FibroTest® in patients with Gilbert's syndrome or with APRI in case of acute hepatitis). Transient elastograpy has the advantages of being a user's friendly procedure that can be performed at the bedside or in an outpatient clinic with high performance for detecting cirrhosis. However, its applicability is lower (80%) than that of serum biomarker (particularly in case of ascites, obesity and limited operator experience) with the risk of false positive results in case of ALT flares. Although these non-invasive methods were initially developed and validated in patients with chronic hepatitis C, they are now increasingly used in patients with hepatitis B, reducing the need for liver biopsy.