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Low Hep B Viral Load Linked to Surface Antigen Seroclearance

Most significant predictors of seroclearance found to be HBV-DNA levels at baseline and follow-up

FRIDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, a low viral load appears to predict the natural seroclearance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), according to research published in the August issue of Gastroenterology.

Jessica Liu, of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 3,087 subjects with chronic hepatitis B infection. Given that seroclearance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is an important clinical outcome for chronic hepatitis B treatment trials, the researchers aimed to determine predictors of natural seroclearance. Serum samples were tested at baseline and at follow-up for HBsAg, hepatitis B e antigen, and HBV-DNA levels.

The researchers found that 562 participants had HBsAg seroclearance, for a 2.26 percent annual seroclearance rate. The most significant predictors of seroclearance were HBV-DNA levels at baseline and follow-up. Higher viral loads were associated with lower HBsAg seroclearance rates. A spontaneous decrease in follow-up HBV-DNA level of at least 3 log was linked to seroclearance (adjusted odds ratio, 4.17).

"In conclusion, this study reveals that HBsAg seroclearance in high endemic areas is not as rare as previously thought. Although age, ethnicity, and extreme obesity in men all were significant predictors of HBsAg seroclearance, serum HBV-DNA levels at baseline and follow-up examinations were the most important predictors of HBsAg seroclearance in this study. This study has clear and significant implications for future research and clinical treatments in chronic hepatitis B," the authors conclude.

A co-author is an employee of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, which provided funding for the study.

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