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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 18, Issue 5, Pages 307-313
Original Article

Serum Beta2-Microglobulin Levels in Hepatitis B e Antigen-Negative Chronic Hepatitits B Patients under Long-Term Lamivudine Monotherapy: Relationship with Virological Breakthrough

Ioannis S Elefsiniotis,1 Nikolaos Scarmeas,2 Irene Glynou,3 Konstantinos D Pantazis,1 Helen Kada,3 and Christos Mavrogiannis1

1Department of Hepatogastroenterology, University of Athens, ‘Helena Venizelou’ Hospital, Athens, Greece
2New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University, New York, USA
3Department of Microbiology, ‘Helena Venizelou’ Hospital, Athens, Greece

Received 9 October 2003; Accepted 19 March 2004

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the predictive value of serum beta2-microglobulin (β2m) levels for virological breakthrough in hepatitis B e antigen-negative chronic hepatitis B patients under long term lamivudine monotherapy.

METHODS: Serum β2m levels were calculated at baseline and every three months during lamivudine monotherapy in 25 patients with chronic hepatitis B, using microparticle enzyme immunoassay technology to investigate their association with biochemical, virological and histological outcome data. Cox proportional hazard models were used to investigate the association between serum β2m levels and virological breakthrough.

RESULTS: Seven of 25 (28%), nine of 25 (36%) and 14 of 25 (56%) chronic hepatitis B patients exhibited virological breakthrough at months 12, 24 and 36 of treatment, respectively. All chronic hepatitis B patients who did not show virological breakthrough in the follow-up period exhibited β2m elevation in month 3 of treatment. The duration (in months) of serum β2m elevation was significantly higher in the responders group than the nonresponders group (7.3±2.6 versus 3.8±3.4, P=0.02). In contrast to patients whose serum β2m levels were increased at three months, patients whose β2m levels were decreased had a 4.6 times higher risk of experiencing virological breakthrough (hazards ratio 4.6, 95% CI 1.22 to 17.36). When age, pretreatment serum alanine aminotransferase and hepatitis B virus DNA levels, and grade of liver disease were simultaneously included in the same Cox model, decreased β2m status was still associated with increased risk of virological breakthrough (hazards ratio 12.2, 95% CI 1.28 to 116.8).

CONCLUSIONS: In hepatitis B e antigen-negative chronic hepatitis B patients under long term lamivudine monotherapy, serum β2m levels at three months of treatment, compared with baseline levels, are good predictors of risk for virological breakthrough.