Dr Gang Chen and colleagues assessed the relationship between past Hepatitis B virus viral load and mortality.
Surviving cohort members of the 11 year follow-up study were evaluated for current liver disease.
The team measured Hepatitis B virus viral load by real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Stored samples from cohort entry in 2763 Hepatitis B surface antigen-positive adults were used for the analysis.
Major end points were death from hepatocellular carcinoma or chronic liver disease.
The researchers reported that there were 447 deaths.
In the 1683 survivors, the research team assessed severity of liver disease on a return visit in 2003.
|Relative risk for hepatocellular carcinoma was 11 with a high viral|
|American Journal of Gastroenterology|
Viral load was divided into 3 categories, including undetected, low titer, and high titer.
The researchers found that for hepatocellular carcinoma, there was a significant increase in mortality across viral load categories.
Compared to the Hepatitis B virus undetected category, the relative risk for hepatocellular carcinoma mortality in the low viral load group was 2.
The research team found that the relative risk for hepatocellular carcinoma was 11 in the high viral load group.
For chronic liver disease mortality, the relative risks were 1.5 and 15, respectively for both groups.
The researchers observed that the relative risk associated with high viral load did not change with increased follow-up time.
In surviving cohort members evaluated for liver disease in 2003, there was also a significant association of viral load with disease severity.
Dr Chen's team concludes, “In this prospective study, viral load is associated with increased mortality from hepatocellular carcinoma, and chronic liver disease in Hepatitis B virus-infected subjects.”
“Viral load may be a useful prognostic tool in Hepatitis B virus infection, and interventions aimed at its reduction should be explored.”