Four-year Outcomes After Cessation of Tenofovir in Immune-tolerant Chronic Hepatitis B Patients

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Goals:To study the long-term outcome after cessation of antiviral therapy in immune-tolerant patients.Background:Experience in the treatment of immune-tolerant chronic hepatitis B is scanty. Some immune-tolerant patients may receive temporary antiviral therapy, such as for prevention of vertical transmission at pregnancy or prophylaxis for chemotherapy.Study:This was a follow-up study of a phase 2 trial at 2 centers. Immune-tolerant patients received tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and/or emtricitabine for 4 years and were followed for another 4 years after treatment cessation. Virological relapse was defined as hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA>2000 IU/mL; clinical relapse was defined as HBV DNA>2000 IU/mL; and alanine aminotransferase (ALT)>2 times the upper limit of normal.Results:In total, 20 patients stopped treatment and were followed up for 206±14 weeks. All patients developed virological relapse at posttreatment week 4 (HBV DNA, 7.07±1.45 log IU/mL). A total of 10 (50%) patients developed clinical relapse at 15±11 weeks (highest ALT, 1149 U/L). In total, 11 (55%) patients were restarted on antiviral therapy; 4 achieved complete HBV DNA suppression and 1 achieved hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconversion. Among the 9 patients not restarted on therapy, 2 patients had HBeAg seroconversion with normal ALT and HBV DNA of 7.12 and 1.62 IU/mL, respectively. The remaining 7 untreated patients continued to have positive HBeAg, high HBV DNA, and normal ALT.Conclusions:Rapid virological relapse is universal and clinical relapse is common after stopping antiviral therapy in patients with immune-tolerant chronic hepatitis B. HBeAg seroconversion is rare regardless of treatment reinitiation.

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