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Original article

Experimental HBsAg/anti-HBs complex assay for prediction of HBeAg loss in chronic hepatitis B patients treated with pegylated interferon and adefovir

Annikki de Niet, Louis Jansen, Hans L Zaaijer, Ursula Klause, Bart Takkenberg, Harry LA Janssen, Tom Chu, Rosemary Petric, Hendrik W Reesink

Corresponding author name: Annikki de Niet
Corresponding author e-mail: a.deniet@amc.nl

Citation: Antiviral Therapy 2014; 19:259-267
doi: 10.3851/IMP2707

Date accepted: 22 September 2013
Date published online: 21 November 2013

Abstract

Background: We studied whether hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)/anti-HBs immune complex levels in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients receiving antiviral therapy could be used as a response marker at baseline (BL) or early during treatment to predict treatment outcome.

Methods: An experimental array-based assay (immunological multi-parameter chip technology [IMPACT]; Roche Diagnostics, Penzberg, Germany) served to determine HBsAg, anti-HBs and complex levels. We tested a panel of serum samples of 40 hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive and 44 HBeAg-negative patients who received pegylated interferon and adefovir for 48 weeks.

Results: HBsAg loss occurred in 4 of 40 HBeAg-positive and 4 of 44 HBeAg-negative patients. A total of 14 of 40 HBeAg-positive patients lost HBeAg and 12 of them formed anti-HBe. At BL, complexes were present in 83 (99%) patients, whereas free anti-HBs levels were detectable in 5 patients. Complex levels at BL and week 12 were higher in HBeAg-positive patients with HBeAg loss, compared to patients who retained HBeAg (P=0.002 and P=0.005, respectively). Receiver operating characteristic analysis for HBeAg loss in HBeAg-positive patients at BL and week 12 showed area-under-the-curve values of 0.79 (P=0.002) and 0.82 (P=0.003) for complex levels. We found no correlation in either HBeAg-positive or -negative patients between complex levels and HBsAg loss.

Conclusions: We demonstrated for the first time that before and during treatment HBsAg/anti-HBs immune complex levels can predict HBeAg loss in HBeAg-positive CHB patients treated with pegylated interferon and adefovir. Complexes were present in almost all patients at BL and were higher in patients who lost HBeAg. In conclusion, determining HBsAg/anti-HBs immune complex levels before and early during treatment could aid in selecting CHB patients with an optimal chance to achieve HBeAg loss.

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