Evaluation of liver biopsy in Egyptian HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B patients at initial presentation: implications for therapy

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Abdel-Rahman El-Zayadi, Hanaa Mostafa Badran, Ahmed Saied, Sherine Shawky, Mohy El-Deen Attia, Khaled Zalata

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

American Journal of Gastroenterology

Publication Date

Spring 1-4-2009




Objectives: A subgroup of HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients with alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and/or hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA levels below the cutoff values of international guidelines may have significant liver disease and miss the opportunity for early treatment. Histopathological changes of HBeAg-negative CHB patients at initial presentation irrespective of HBV-DNA and/or ALT levels to increase the likelihood of patients for treatment are evaluated. Methods: CHB patients attending Cairo Liver Center from January 2006 to May 2008 had biochemical, serological, and virological screening as well as liver biopsy that was assessed by Metavir score. Results: Fifty-two HBeAg-negative CHB patients (46 male and 6 female) with a median age of 37.5 years were included in the study. Significant fibrosis (>or=F2) was found in 26% (5/19) of patients with serum HBV-DNA <2,000 IU/ml, and 53% (21/40) of patients with ALT level <2xULN. Liver biopsy increased candidacy for treatment by nearly 25% before implementation of the recommended lower ALT levels (30 U/l for male and 19 U/l for female patients), and by 21.2% after implementation of the lower ALT level. Implementation of the lower ALT level increased the candidacy of patients for treatment by 4% (two patients), whereas liver biopsy increased eligibility for treatment by 55.8 % (27/49). Conclusions: Liver biopsy is more reliable than either ALT or HBV-DNA levels in the decision to treat Egyptian HBeAg-negative CHB patients, even with the implementation of the recommended lower ALT levels.

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