The optimal duration of oral nucleos(t)ide analogue therapy for HBeAg negative chronic hepatitis B (CHB) has not been defined. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical efficacy of 24-months course of lamivudine therapy in patients with HBeAg negative CHB in Korea. A total of 50 Korean patients with HBeAg negative CHB were prospectively enrolled. The patients received 100 mg/day of lamivudine orally for 24 months. Patients who showed complete response at 24 months to lamivudine therapy stopped treatment, and regular follow-up was done thereafter. The mean follow-up duration after cessation of therapy was 40.8±22.7 (range 12-96) months. The complete response rate at months 12 and 24 were 86.0% (43/50) and 86.0% (43/50), respectively, and the clinical breakthrough at months 12 and 24 were 4.0% (2/50) and 14.0% (7/50), respectively. The expected durability of responses at months 12, 24, and 36 after cessation of lamivudine therapy in 43 complete responders was 79.1%, 64.0%, and 56.9%, respectively. In conclusion, a 24-months course of lamivudine therapy shows high end-treatment response rate and substantial durability of initial response after cessation of therapy in HBeAg negative CHB patients in Korea.
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