Relapse has been reported after stopping nucleos(t)ide (NUC) therapy in the majority of chronic HBeAg negative hepatitis patients. However, the ideal treatment duration of HBeAg negative chronic hepatitis B (CHB) is not well known. We investigated the frequency of relapse in HBeAg negative CHB patients receiving NUC therapy.
The NUC therapy was discontinued at least 3 times undetectable level of HBV DNA leave 6 months space in 45 patients. Clinical relapse was defined as HBV DNA >2,000 IU/mL and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) or aspartate aminotransferase (AST) >2 times of upper limit of normal range. Virological relapse was defined as HBV DNA >2,000 IU/mL.
Clinical relapse developed in 16 (35.6%) and 24 (53.3%) patients after stopping therapy at 6 months and 12 months off therapy, respectively. Virological relapse developed 22 (48.9%) and 33 (73.3%) patients at 6 months and 12 months off therapy. The factors such as age, gender, cirrhosis, baseline AST, ALT, HBV DNA levels, treatment duration, and consolidation duration were analyzed to investigate the predictive factors associated with 1 year sustained response. Of these factors, cirrhosis (86.1% in CHB, 22.2% in LC) was significantly associated with 1 year virological relapse rate. Baseline HBV DNA and total treatment duration tended to be associated with virological relapse.