Current treatment guidelines suggest that antiviral therapy be considered for chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients with high viral load if a biopsy shows significant liver disease despite alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels two times or less than the upper limit of normal (ULN). We evaluated the histological findings in CHB patients with high viral load and persistently normal or slightly elevated serum ALT levels. Between January 2003 and June 2006, 105 consecutive treatment-naive patients with CHB who underwent ultrasonography-guided percutaneous liver biopsy, had detectable serum HBV DNA (>10 5 copies/mL) in a direct hybridization assay and normal or slightly elevated serum ALT levels (≤2 X ULN) for at least 12 months were included in a prospective study. Histological assessment was based on the METAVIR scoring system. Significant histology was defined as fibrosis stage ≥F2 or necroinflammation grade ≥A2. Among the 105 CHB patients with high viral load and persistently normal or slightly elevated serum ALT levels for at least 12 months, significant fibrosis (F2-F4 fibrosis) was observed in 63 patients (60.0%) and the actual significant histology was found in 65 patients (61.9%). On multivariate analysis, serum ALT levels and age at which they entered the study were independent factors associated with significant histology. Odds ratios for significant histology increased progressively according to serum ALT levels and age. In conclusion, a large proportion of CHB patients with genotype C, high viral load and ALT ≤2 X ULN had significant liver disease on liver biopsy and should be considered for antiviral therapy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases