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 Table of Contents 
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 2376-2380  

Observational study on the response of tenofovir monotherapy versus tenofovir plus telbivudine dual therapy in patients with hepatitis B virus related acute on chronic liver failure

1 Department of Hepatology, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh
2 Civil Surgeon Office, Munshiganj, Bangladesh
3 Department of Hepatology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
4 Department of Anatomy and Embryology, Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine, Ehime, Japan
5 GDepartment of Gastroenterology and Metabology, Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine, Ehime, Japan
6 Department of Primary Care and Microbiology, Brahminbaria Medical College, Brahminbaria, Bangladesh

Date of Submission23-Nov-2020
Date of Decision02-Feb-2021
Date of Acceptance10-Apr-2021
Date of Web Publication02-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Mamun A Mahtab
Department of Hepatology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Bangladesh. Postal Address: House # 109, Road # 4, Block # B, Banani, Dhaka-1213
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_2300_20

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Introduction: HBV is major health problem globally due to complications, including ACLF, cirrhosis and hepa¬tocellular carcinoma. ACLF due to exacerbation of CHB is associate with 30%-70% mortality. Reduction of HBV-DNA is therefore a target of therapy in ACLF-B. Methods: Patients with spontaneous reactivation of HBV [(ALT >5×ULN or >2× baseline) and HBV-DNA >20,000 IU/ml] were randomized to Tenofovir mono therapy (300 mg/day) or Tenofovir plus Telbivudine (600 mg/day) dual therapy with standard care. Clinical and biochemical parameters were evaluated at baseline, 1 week, 4 weeks and at 3 months. Virological evaluation was done at baseline and at 3 months. Primary end points were reduction of HBV-DNA and resolution of ascites, as applied. Secondary end point was reduction of liver related complications, therapy related adverse effects and survival at 3 months. Results: 27 patients were enrolled. 15 received mono therapy with Tenofovir and 12 received dual therapy (Tenofovir plus Telbivudine). Baseline parameters in 2 groups had no significant difference. In both groups there was significant improvement of S. bilirubin, ALT, INR, CTP score and MELD score. Only MELD score showed significant improvement in patient with dual therapy at 3 months in comparison to mono therapy. 11 patients on Tenofovir mono therapy (n=15) showed undetected HBV-DNA (91.7%) at 3 months and one patient had detectable HBV-DNA (<2,000 IU/ml). 10 patients on dual therapy (n=12) had undetectable HBV-DNA (100%). Ascites resolved in 3 patients in both groups. Patients receiving dual therapy showed significant improvement in AKI on follow up compared to those on Tenofovir mono therapy. Among 5 deaths, 3 received mono therapy with Tenofovir and 2 dual therapy. Predictors of mortality had high S. bilirubin, HBV-DNA, MELD score and CTP score. Conclusion: In spontaneous reactivation of HBV presenting as ACLF, combination of Telbivudine plus Tenofovir is safer with less nephrotoxicity and better outcomes.

Keywords:  ACLF-B, monotherapy, telbivudine, tenofovir

How to cite this article:
Manik AH, Malakar D, Noor-E-Alam SM, Mahtab MA, Das DC, Mamun AA, Khan S, Akbar MF, Rahman Z, Rahman S. Observational study on the response of tenofovir monotherapy versus tenofovir plus telbivudine dual therapy in patients with hepatitis B virus related acute on chronic liver failure. J Family Med Prim Care 2021;10:2376-80

How to cite this URL:
Manik AH, Malakar D, Noor-E-Alam SM, Mahtab MA, Das DC, Mamun AA, Khan S, Akbar MF, Rahman Z, Rahman S. Observational study on the response of tenofovir monotherapy versus tenofovir plus telbivudine dual therapy in patients with hepatitis B virus related acute on chronic liver failure. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Aug 3];10:2376-80. Available from: https://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2021/10/6/2376/320464

  Introduction Top

Acute on chronic liver failure (ACLF) is a disease entity that encompasses acute deterioration of liver function in patients with chronic liver disease.[1] The term ACLF was first used in 1995 to describe a condition where two simultaneous insults to the liver, one acute on the background of a chronic liver disease, lead to rapid hepatic decompensation.[2] The Asia-Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) in 2009 defined ACLF as a clinical condition manifesting as jaundice and coagulopathy, complicated within 4 weeks by ascites and/or encephalopathy in a patient with previously diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic liver disease.[2]

ACLF secondary to reactivation of chronic hepatitis B virus (ACLF-B) is a distinct condition with high mortality which can be managed with potent antiviral therapy. Lamivudine and entecavir have shown short-term survival benefits, however, drug resistance is a concern with Lamivudine. Monotherapy with tenofovir is promising for improving survivals.[3] However, nephrotoxicity of tenofovir is a deterring factor for its uses in ACLF-B. The renoprotective effect of telbivudine has been shown and its addition to tenofovir in managing ACLF-B may, therefore, be beneficial. Combination antiviral therapy may achieve synergistic antiviral effects compared to monotherapy and achieve better hepatitis B virus deoxyribonucleic acid (HBV-DNA) suppression. Combination of a nucleoside analogue with a nucleotide analogue will also ensure that there will be no cross-resistance to HBV. Currently, however, monotherapy is recommended for ACLF-B and data of combination therapy is sparse.

  Methods Top

ACLF patients admitted to the Department of Hepatology of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh, were recruited in this study. The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of BSMMU. They were randomized into two groups. Half of them (Group A) were selected for tenofovir and half (Group B) for telbivudine plus tenofovir. Group A patients received tenofovir 300 mg daily and group B received telbivudine 600 mg plus tenofovir 300 mg daily at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after breakfast along with standard medical care. Patients were followed up for at least 3 months. Biochemistry and hematology were monitored during the enrollment at 1st week, 2nd week, 1st month, and then, 3rd month. HBV-DNA was checked during the enrollment, and then, at 3rd month.

Qualitative data was analyzed by Chi-square test and quantitative data was analyzed by Student's t-test. Chi-square test was used to check the association between two qualitative variables. Wilcoxon rank sum test was done to compare laboratory parameters and measurements obtained during the first and last visits, thereby, assessing the effectiveness of the therapy. A statistically significant result was considered when P value was less than 0.05.

  Results Top

The mean age was 41.75 ± 15.0 in tenofovir plus telbivudine group and 42.73 ± 13.67 in tenofovir group. Majority of the patients were male in both tenofovir 93.3% and telbivudine plus tenofovir 91.7% groups. Patients were distributed during enrollment according to chronic liver failure-sequential organ failure assessment (CLIF-SOFA) score. In both the groups, they had coagulation failure and liver failure. Some of them had cerebral failure, kidney failure and circulatory failure [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of the study patients by organ failure between two groups

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During enrollment, complete blood count, liver function, INR, renal function and serum electrolytes were checked in every patient. Mean serum bilirubin was 19.30 ± 7.45 in telbivudine plus tenofovir group and 17.43 ± 8.41 in tenofovir group. Serum creatinine was 1.53 ± 0.92 in telbivudine plus tenofovir group and 0.97 ± 0.27 in tenofovir group. The mean difference was only significant (P < 0.05) for serum creatinine in both the groups. Other baseline investigations were not statistically significant (P > 0.05) [Table 2].
Table 2: Comparison of baseline investigations between two groups

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Anti- hepatitis B virus core antigen Immunoglobulin M (HBc IgM) was found in 55.5% study patients. Among them, 58.3% cases were in telbivudine plus tenofovir group and 53.3% in tenofovir group. Hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) was positive in 41.7% in telbivudine plus tenofovir group and 40.0% in tenofovir group. HBV-DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was done in every patient. 20000 IU/ml was the cut off HBV-DNA level to identify spontaneous reactivation of chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Telbivudine plus tenofovir group had 6 cases of >20,000 IU/mL HBV-DNA and 6 cases of <20,000 IU/mL HBV-DNA. The tenofovir group had 9 cases with >20,000 IU/mL HBV-DNA and 6 cases of <20,000 IU/mL HBV-DNA. This difference was not statistically significant between the groups [Table 3].
Table 3: Distribution of the patients by HBV-DNA in two groups

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Both monotherapy with tenofovir and dual therapy with tenofovir plus telbivudine improved liver function tests (LFT) at the 90th day and that was statistically significant. But when compared between both groups, the improvement of LFT was not statistically significant. Child-Pugh-Turcotte Score (CTP) scores and model for end stage liver disease (MELD) scores improved on the 90th day in both the groups. This improvement was statistically significant. However, during the comparison of CTP score between both the groups, it was not statistically significant on the 90th day. MELD score was significantly improved with tenofovir plus telbivudine therapy in comparison with tenofovir monotherapy [Table 4].
Table 4: Comparison of LFT between two groups after 90 days

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HBV-DNA reduction was observed after 3 months of antiviral therapy in both the groups. Only in one case of tenofovir group, HBV-DNA was detected on the 90th day [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Reduction of HBV-DNA after therapy at 3 months in both groups

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Renal function improvement was seen on the 90th day with dual therapy. Baseline creatinine was higher in tenofovir plus telbivudine group (1.53 ± 0.92) and this improved on the 90th day after dual antiviral therapy [Table 5].
Table 5: Tenofovir plus Telbivudine-induced improvement in S. creatinine after 90 days

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At 90 days, 22 patients were alive in total. Out of them, 83.3% of the cases were in tenofovir plus telbivudine group and 80.0% in tenofovir group. Two patients died in tenofovir plus telbivudine group and 3 patients in tenofovir group [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Outcome of patients after 90 days of antiviral therapy among the two study groups

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Early death (within 7 days) was experienced in four cases and another patient died after 2 months. ACLF with acute kidney injury was the predominant cause of death. One patient had multiple causes [Table 6].
Table 6: Distribution of the study patients by cause of death between two groups

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Baseline high MELD and CTP scores were associated with high mortality. High-serum bilirubin and INR at baseline also predicted death. High-baseline HBV-DNA 5.18 ± 1.17 log10 IU/mL was associated with high mortality [Table 7].
Table 7: Comparing of variables at baseline for predicting death

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  Discussion Top

This study was carried out with the aim to see the survival outcome of ACLF-B at 3 months of antiviral therapy (tenofovir monotherapy or tenofovir plus telbivudine dual therapy). Tenofovir is preferred for the treatment of decompensated cirrhosis because of greater antiviral potency and a high genetic barrier to resistance.[4] In this present study, tenofovir resulted in HBV-DNA suppression is 91.7% at 90 days. There are reports that tenofovir significantly reduced HBV-DNA level from baseline 6.64 log to 4.07 (P < 0.05) at day 15 and 3.04 at day 90 (P < 0.05).[5] In this study, tenofovir plus telbivudine dual therapy suppressed HBV-DNA 100.0% on the 90th day. This is consistent with the findings of an Indian study.[6]

In fact, various evolving therapies have been employed for the management of different forms of chronic liver diseases.[7-10] Combination of drugs having additive or synergistic effect compared to monotherapy are on trial. Renoprotective effect of telbivudine has been shown in some studies. In our experience, combination of tenofovir with telbivudine lessened the risk of renal failure and improved the overall survival in ACLF-B. This finding is consistent with other experience in published literature.[11] We analyzed various baseline clinical and laboratory variables as possible predictors of mortality. We identified serum bilirubin, HBV-DNA, MELD and CTP scores to be significantly associated with mortality. These findings are consistent with the experience of other researchers. Combination therapy was well tolerated with no safety concern. No adverse event was observed in either group.

  Conclusion Top

It can be concluded that both groups significantly improve serum bilirubin, ALT, INR, CTP and MELD scores. Both groups suppress HBV-DNA significantly, but there is no advantage of one over another. Combination therapy significantly improves MELD score compared to tenofovir monotherapy, but there was no survival benefit between the groups. However, both protocols were safe and effective and there is no safety-related concern. Tenofovir plus telbivudine dual therapy exhibited significant virologic and biochemical response over 3 months.

Hepatitis B poses major disease burden in the Asia-Pacific region where the management of this infection is largely carried out by the primary care physicians. In this context, this article is likely to benefit them as well.


The study was conducted at the Department of Hepatology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Jalan R, Gines P, Olson JC, Mookerjee RP, Moreau R, Arroyo V, et al. Acute-on chronic liver failure. J Hepatol 2012;57;1336-48.  Back to cited text no. 1
Sarin SK, Kumar A, Almeida JA, Chawla YK, Fan ST Garg H, et al. Acute-on-chronic liver failure: Consensus recommendations of the Asian Pacific Association for the study of the liver (APASL). Hepatol Int 2009;3:269-82.  Back to cited text no. 2
Philips CA, Sarin SK. Potent antiviral therapy improves survival in acute on chronic liver failure due to hepatitis B virus reactivation. World J Gastroenterol 2014;20:16037-52.  Back to cited text no. 3
Perillo RP. Hepatitis B virus treatment: Which patients require immediate treatment. Clin Liver Dis 2013;2:11-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
Garg H, Sarin SK, Kumar M, Garg V, Sharma BC, Kumar A. Tenofovir improves the outcome in patients with spontaneous reactivation of hepatitis B presenting as acute-on-chronic liver failure. Hepatology 2011;53:774-80.  Back to cited text no. 5
Panda C. Telbivudine plus tenofovir in combination therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis B infection--an Indian experience. J Assoc Physicians India 2013;61:785-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
Al Mahtab M, Mohammad Fazle Akbar S, Chandra Podder D, Kumar Saha P, Jahan M, Begum L, et al. Relationship between hepatitis B viral deoxyribonucleic acid load and hepatocellular carcinoma. Euroasian J Hepatogastroenterol 2014;4:66-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
Hussain M, Al Mahtab M, Islam S, Ahmed N, Rahman S, Khan M. Therapy targeting stem cell in patients with decompensated cirrhosis of liver in a tertiary treatment care center of Bangladesh. Euroasian J Hepatogastroenterol 2017;7:111-2.  Back to cited text no. 8
Mahtab MA, Mf Akbar S, Begum M, Islam MA , Rahim MA, Noor-E-Alam SM et al. Stem cell therapy for cirrhosis of liver in Bangladesh: Specific design compatible for developing country. Euroasian J Hepatogastroenterol 2018;8:121-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
Mf Akbar S, Al-Mahtab M, I Khan S. Nature of host immunity during hepatitis B virus infection and designing immune therapy. Euroasian J Hepatogastroenterol 2018;8:42-6.  Back to cited text no. 10
Jindal A, Kumar M, Sarin SK. A randomized comparative open label trial of tenofovir monotherapy versus tenofovir plus telbuvidine dual therapy in spontaneous reactivation of hepatitis B. J Viral Hepatitis; 2015;22:19-35.  Back to cited text no. 11


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7]


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