AIM: To determine the efficacy of long-term lamivudine treatment of a large number of Japanese patients with chronic hepatitis B.
METHODS: In this retrospective, multi-center trial, 318 Japanese patients with chronic hepatitis B received 100 mg of lamivudine daily for up to 36 (median 21) mo. Virological response was a decline to a serum HBV DNA level less than 3.7 log copies/mL. Virological breakthrough was defined as the reappearance of a serum HBV DNA level to more than 10-fold the minimum during treatment.
RESULTS: Lamivudine produced virological response in 86.8% of the 318 patients at 6 mo, in 80.2% of 252 patients at 12 mo, in 69.2% of 133 patients at 24 mo, and in 53.6% of 28 patients at 36 mo. Forward stepwise logistic regression analysis showed an HBV DNA level less than 6.8 log copies/mL (P < 0.0001), HBeAg negativity (P < 0.0001), a platelet count of 100 × 109/L or more (P = 0.0162) at baseline, and a decline of the HBV DNA level of more than 3.2 log copies/mL as compared with the baseline level at 3 mo after the start of treatment (P = 0.0003) to be significantly associated with virological response. Among patients with a virological response, virological breakthrough was seen in 5.3% of 19 patients who responded virologically at 1 mo, in 20.7% of 203 patients at 3 mo, in 27.5% of 51 patients at 6 mo, in 33.3% of 12 patients at 9 mo, and in 100% of 3 patients at ≥15 mo. A virological breakthrough was found significantly more often in patients with delayed virological response.
CONCLUSION: Lamivudine treatment could suppress serum HBV DNA in most of the tested Japanese patients. Long-term efficacy might be seen in patients without HBeAg at baseline, in the absence of cirrhosis, and in patients with a decline in HBV DNA level soon after the start of treatment.