This study was undertaken to compare the early antiviral activity and viral kinetic profiles of entecavir (ETV) versus adefovir (ADV) in hepatitis B e antigen positive nucleoside-naïve adults with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Sixty-nine nucleoside-naïve CHB patients with baseline HBV DNA of 108 copies/mL or more were randomized 1:1 to open-label treatment with entecavir 0.5 mg/day or adefovir 10 mg/day for a minimum of 52 weeks. The primary efficacy analysis compared mean reduction in HBV DNA at week 12 adjusted for baseline levels using linear regression. Entecavir was superior to adefovir for mean change from baseline in HBV DNA at week 12 (-6.23 log10 copies/mL versus -4.42 log10 copies/mL, respectively; mean difference -1.58 log10 copies/mL; P < 0.0001). Both drugs demonstrated biphasic viral kinetics, with a first phase of rapid decline lasting 10 days. A significant difference favoring ETV was reached at day 10 (day 10 ETV-ADV difference estimate: -0.66 log10 copies/mL; 95% CI [-0.30, -0.01]). Early virological response was found to be predictive of subsequent virological response, with those having lower HBV DNA levels at day 10 being more likely to achieve HBV DNA of less than 300 copies/mL at week 48. In addition, there was considerably less variability in the extent of HBV DNA reductions in patients treated with entecavir versus adefovir. Both the mean decrease in serum HBV DNA and the proportion of patients achieving HBV DNA less than 300 copies/mL were greater in entecavir-treated than adefovir-treated patients at weeks 2, 4, 8, 12, 24, and 48. At week 48, one (3%) ETV-treated versus 15 (47%) ADV-treated patients had HBV DNA of 105 copies/mL or more. Both antivirals were well tolerated. Conclusion: Entecavir therapy resulted in earlier and superior reduction in HBV DNA compared with adefovir in nucleoside-naïve HBeAg-positive patients with CHB.
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