Background & Aims: Little is known about the effects of antiviral therapy on short- and long-term survival of patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related decompensated cirrhosis. We aimed to determine whether a maintained virologic response (MVR, defined as persistent undetectable HBV DNA during therapy) associates with short-term (6 mo) and long-term (6–120 mo) survival of patients with decompensated cirrhosis. Methods: We performed a 10-year observation analysis using data from the Epidemiology and Natural History of Liver Cirrhosis study of patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis in Korea. Of the entire cohort (1595 patients enrolled at onset of decompensation since 2005), our analysis comprised 295 patients who immediately began treatment with entecavir (n = 179) or lamivudine (n = 116) after decompensation. We collected laboratory test results, data on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, and Child–Turcotte–Pugh and model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) scores. The mean follow-up time was 62.3 ± 36.5 months. The primary end point was time of liver transplant-free survival. Results: The median survival time was 7.7 years; 60.1% of patients survived for 5 years and 45.7% survived for 10 years without liver transplantation. An MVR was observed in 116 patients (39.3%); these patients had significantly longer times of transplant-free survival than patients without MVR. Survival times associated with the occurrence of HCC; survival of patients without HCC was excellent if they survived the first 6 months after initiation of antiviral therapy, whereas the survival rates of patients with HCC decreased persistently over time. A baseline MELD score above 20 and multiple complications were associated with short-term mortality. MVR was the factor most strongly associated with long-term transplant-free survival. Significantly higher proportions of patients who received entecavir survived 10 years compared with patients who received lamivudine, but no difference was observed among patients with MVRs. Patients with MVRs had significant improvement in hepatic function over time, but nonsignificant reductions in risk of HCC or HCC-related mortality. Conclusions: In a 10-year observation study of patients in Korea with HBV-related decompensated cirrhosis, we found baseline MELD score and MVR to entecavir or lamivudine to associate with short- and long-term transplant-free survival. The benefits of an MVR are maintained for up to 10 years even after decompensation, but patients are still at risk for HCC.
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