Public Release: 

Hepatitis B virus reemerges with long-term nucleoside analog treatment

Virological breakthrough not linked to antiviral drug resistance; non-adherence to medication likely

Wiley

A recently published study revealed that virological breakthrough (VBT) is common in patients receiving nucleoside analogs (NUCs) for chronic hepatitis B. Nearly 40% of the VBTs found were not related to antiviral drug resistance. Details of this retrospective study are published in the May issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

VBT is the first manifestation of antiviral drug resistance during NUC therapy of chronic hepatitis B. NUC drugs approved for treatment of chronic hepatitis B include lamivudine (LAM), adefovir (ADV), entecavir (ETV), telbivudine (TBV), and tenofovir (TDF). While the medications suppress the virus with few side effects, they do not eradicate HBV and require long-term treatment to provide clinical benefit. With long-term NUC therapy, studies have shown an increasing risk of drug resistance particularly with monotherapy regimens.

In the current study, Anna Lok, M.D. and colleagues from the University of Michigan Health System examined the incidence of VBT and genotypic resistance (GR) in 148 patients with chronic hepatitis B who were treated with NUCs between January 2000 and July 2010. The mean age of study participants was 45 years and 73% were male. Researchers reviewed medical records and recorded patient demographics, hepatitis B virus (HBV) markers, liver panel, blood counts and liver histology.

Results showed that during a mean follow-up of 38 months, 39 (26%) patients had at least one VBT, and upon retesting, 15 (38%) of these patients did not have a VBT and 10 had no evidence of GR. Researchers reported the probability of VBT, confirmed VBT, and GR at five years was 46%, 30%, and 34%, respectively. "Our analysis showed an alarmingly high rate of VBT in clinical practice and the only factor significantly linked to VBT was failure to achieve undectectable HBV DNA," said Dr. Lok.

HBV DNA decreased in the ten patients who initially experienced a VBT, but who did not have confirmed VBT or GR, when the same drug regimen was maintained. Nine of these patients had undetectable HBV DNA at the most recent follow-up, a mean of 7 months after the initial VBT. These data suggest that nonadherence to medication may be a common cause of VBT. "Counseling patients with chronic hepatitis B on the importance of medication adherence, and confirming reemergence of the virus and genetic mutations that cause resistance, can help to avoid unnecessary changes to antiviral treatments," advised Dr. Lok.

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Article: "Virological Breakthrough and Resistance in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B Receiving Nucleos(t)ide Analogs in Clinical Practice." Chanunta Hongthanakorn, Watcharasak Chotiyaputta, Kelly Oberhelman, Robert J. Fontana, Jorge A. Marrero, Tracy Licari and Anna S.F. Lok. Hepatology; Published Online: March 24, 2011 (DOI: 10.1002/hep.24318); Print Issue Date: May 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hep.24318/abstract.

This study is published in Hepatology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of the articles may contact healthnews@wiley.com.

About the Journal

Hepatology is the premier publication in the field of liver disease, publishing original, peer-reviewed articles concerning all aspects of liver structure, function and disease. Each month, the distinguished Editorial Board monitors and selects only the best articles on subjects such as immunology, chronic hepatitis, viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, genetic and metabolic liver diseases and their complications, liver cancer, and drug metabolism. Hepatology is published on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). For more information, please visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1527-3350 .

About Wiley-Blackwell

Wiley-Blackwell is the international scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons, with strengths in every major academic and professional field and partnerships with many of the world's leading societies. Wiley-Blackwell publishes nearly 1,500 peer-reviewed journals and 1,500+ new books annually in print and online, as well as databases, major reference works and laboratory protocols. For more information, please visit www.wileyblackwell.com or our new online platform, Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), one of the world's most extensive multidisciplinary collections of online resources, covering life, health, social and physical sciences, and humanities.

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