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.gov registration numbers: NCT00117676 and NCT00116805.
Copyright © 2017 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.