The aim of the study was to retrospectively evaluate the long-term safety profile of anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α agents on the liver of patients with spondyloarthritis (SpA) and a previously resolved hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.
Medical records from 992 consecutive outpatients receiving anti-TNF-α therapy between 2007 and 2015 were retrospectively reviewed. HBV infection was assessed evaluating HBV surface antigen (HBsAg), antibodies to HBsAg (anti-HBs), antibodies to hepatitis B core (anti-HBc), and HBV-DNA levels. In patients with a previously resolved HBV infection, serum levels of aminotransferase (AST/ALT) were also assessed every three months, while HBsAg and HBV-DNA every six months.
We identified 131 consecutive patients (70 males, 61 females) with SpA and resolved HBV infection. At baseline none of the patients were positive for HBV-DNA, and AST/ALT levels were within the normal range with no subsequent increase during the observational treatment period. None received antiviral therapy prior to or during anti-TNF drug administration. At the end of the follow-up period (75.50±33.37 months) no viral reactivation was observed in anti-HBc positive patients, regardless of anti-HBs positivity. During the whole follow-up, HBV-DNA was undetectable in all patients, HBsAg remained negative, and it was not necessary to discontinue biologic therapy because of liver damage.
Our results confirm that pre-emptive antiviral prophylaxis may not be necessary routine, but strict monitoring for AST/ALT levels, as well as for changes in HBV serology and HBV-DNA remain necessary and seem a realistic and cost-effective approach to identify early viral reactivation.
- Tumor necrosis factor antagonist