Liver stiffness in the hepatitis B virus carrier: a non-invasive marker of liver disease influenced by the pattern of transaminases

2008 World Journal of Gastroenterology 14, 40 (6154-6162)

AIM: To investigate the usefulness of transient elastography by Fibroscan (FS), a rapid non-invasive technique to evaluate liver fibrosis, in the management of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers. METHODS: In 297 consecutive HBV carriers, we studied the correlation between liver stiffness (LS), stage of liver disease and other factors potentially influencing FS measurements. In 87 chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients, we monitored the FS variations according to the spontaneous or treatment-induced variations of biochemical activity during follow-up. RESULTS: FS values were 12.3 +/- 3.3 kPa in acute hepatitis, 10.3 +/- 8.8 kPa in chronic hepatitis, 4.3 +/- 1.0 kPa in inactive carriers and 4.6 +/- 1.2 kPa in blood donors. We identified the cut-offs of 7.5 and 11.8 kPa for the diagnosis of fibrosis >or= S3 and cirrhosis respectively, showing 93.9% and 86.5% sensitivity, 88.5% and 96.3% specificity, 76.7% and 86.7% positive predictive value (PPV), 97.3% and 96.3% negative predictive value (NPV) and 90.1% and 94.2% diagnostic accuracy. At multivariate analysis in 171 untreated carriers, fibrosis stage (t = 13.187, P < 0.001), active vs inactive HBV infection (t = 6.437, P < 0.001), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (t = 4.740, P < 0.001) and HBV-DNA levels (t = or-2.046, P = 0.042) were independently associated with FS. Necroinflammation score (t = 2.158, > 10/18 vs <or= 10/18, P = 0.035) and ALT levels (t = 3.566, P = 0.001) were independently associated with LS in 83 untreated patients without cirrhosis and long-term biochemical remission (t = 4.662, P < 0.001) in 80 treated patients. During FS monitoring (mean follow-up 19.9 +/- 7.1 mo) FS values paralleled those of ALT in patients with hepatitis exacerbation (with 1.2 to 4.4-fold increases in CHB patients) and showed a progressive decrease during antiviral therapy. CONCLUSION: FS is a non-invasive tool to monitor liver disease in chronic HBV carriers, provided that the pattern of biochemical activity is taken into account. In the inactive carrier, it identifies non-HBV-related causes of liver damage and transient reactivations. In CHB patients, it may warrant a more appropriate timing of control liver biopsies.

Pubmed : 18985805