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Serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) RNA has emerged as a novel biomarker of treatment response. This study aimed to investigate the role of this marker in predicting long-term outcome of patients with hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-negative chronic hepatitis B (CHB) receiving pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN)-based therapy. Serial serum samples from 91 patients with HBeAg-negative CHB previously treated with PEG-IFN alone or combined with entecavir in a randomized trial were retrospectively analysed. HBV RNA quantification was examined by droplet digital PCR. At the end of 3 years post-treatment follow-up, maintained virological response (MVR, HBV DNA 10  copies/mL) had a positive predictive value (PPV) and a negative predictive value in predicting MVR of 80.8% and 80.0%, respectively. At the same cut-off value, PPV and NPV for predicting HBsAg clearance were 30.8% and 95.4%, respectively. At week 12 during therapy, HBV RNA level ≥ 2 log10 copies/mL displayed high NPVs of achieving MVR and HBsAg clearance (95% and 100%, respectively). In conclusion, the measurement of HBV RNA prior to PEG-IFN-based therapy could identify patients with high probability of MVR. In addition, HBV RNA kinetics may serve as a promising "stopping rule" in patients infected with HBV genotypes B or C.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of viral hepatitis

Publication Date





1481 - 1488


Center of Excellence in Hepatitis and Liver Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Humans, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis B, Chronic, Interferon-alpha, DNA, Viral, Hepatitis B e Antigens, Hepatitis B Surface Antigens, Antiviral Agents, Treatment Outcome, Viral Load, Odds Ratio, ROC Curve, Genotype, Female, Male, Biomarkers