Age as a Predictor of Significant Fibrosis Features in HBeAg-Negative Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection with Persistently Normal Alanine Aminotransferase.

PloS one

PubMedID: 25885705

Tan Y, Ye Y, Zhou X, Chen L, Wen D. Age as a Predictor of Significant Fibrosis Features in HBeAg-Negative Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection with Persistently Normal Alanine Aminotransferase. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(4):e0123452.
BACKGROUND
Although alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels reflect the degree of liver damage, not all patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection exhibit persistently elevated ALT levels. In the present study, we aimed to comprehensively evaluate the characteristics of histological abnormalities in a large population of Chinese patients with chronic HBV and persistently normal ALT levels.

METHODS
In total, 2303 consecutive patients who underwent liver biopsy were screened. Of these patients, 273 were categorized as having persistently normal ALT levels (PNALT), whereas 618 were categorized as having persistently or intermittently elevated ALT levels (PIALT). All these patients had at least three ALT values recorded in the year prior to the baseline liver biopsy.

RESULTS
Significant necroinflammation was observed in 9.7% (11/113) patients with PNALT, 23.3% (42/180) patients with PIALT (ALT 1-2× upper limit of normal [ULN]), and 27.8% (42/151) patients with PIALT (ALT > 2× ULN), whereas significant fibrosis was observed in 8.8% (10/113) patients with PNALT, 27.8% (42/151) patients with PIALT (ALT 1-2× ULN), and 21.2% (32/151) patients with PIALT (ALT > 2× ULN). Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that age parameters were associated with significant histological abnormalities in patients with PNALT. The area under the curve showed that age was associated with significant fibrosis characteristics in patients with hepatitis B extracellular antigen (HBeAg)-negative PNALT.

CONCLUSION
Significant histological abnormalities are not often observed in Chinese patients with PNALT. Interestingly, age appears to be a predictor of significant fibrosis in patients with HBeAg-negative PNALT.