Factors Associated With Persistent Increase in Level of Alanine Aminotransferase in Patients With Chronic Hepatitis B Receiving Oral Antiviral Therapy

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Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS

Despite complete suppression of viral DNA with antiviral agents, in some patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB), serum levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) do not normalize. We investigated factors associated with persistent increases in ALT level in patients with CHB given long-term tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.

METHODS

We analyzed data from 471 hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive and HBeAg-negative patients with CHB participating in 2 phase 3 trials. We identified patients with an increased level of ALT (above the upper limit of normal range) after 5 years (240 weeks) of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate therapy. We analyzed findings from liver biopsy specimens collected from 467 patients (99%) at baseline and 339 patients (72%) at year 5 of treatment; biopsy specimens were evaluated by an independent pathologist. We performed stepwise, forward, multivariate regression analyses of specified baseline characteristics and on-treatment response parameters to identify factors associated with persistent increases in ALT level.

RESULTS

Of the 471 patients, 87 (18%) still had an increased ALT level at year 5 of treatment. Factors associated significantly with a persistent increase in ALT level were a steatosis score of 5% or greater (grade 1 or more) at baseline (odds ratio [OR], 2.236; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.031–4.852;P= .042) and at year 5 (OR, 3.392; 95% CI, 1.560 ≥ 7.375;P= .002), HBeAg seropositivity at baseline (OR, 3.297; 95% CI, 1.653–6.576;P< .001), and age 40 years or older (OR, 2.099; 95% CI, 1.014–4.342;P= .046). Of the 42 HBeAg-positive patients with steatosis at baseline, 21 (50%) had an increased ALT level at year 5 of treatment. Patients with persistent increases in ALT level were more likely to have an increase in steatosis at year 5 than those with a normal ALT level.

CONCLUSIONS

HBeAg seropositivity and hepatic steatosis contribute to persistent increases in ALT level in patients with CHB receiving suppressive antiviral treatment.ClinicalTrials.govregistration numbers: NCT00117676 and NCT00116805.

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