Home > Journals > Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica > Past Issues > Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2005 March;51(1) > Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2005 March;51(1):63-76





A Journal on Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Dietetics

Indexed/Abstracted in: CAB, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index




Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2005 March;51(1):63-76

language: English

Natural history of hepatitis B

Marcellin P., Castelnau C., Martinot-Peignoux M., Boyer N.


The natural course of hepatitis B virus (HBV) chronic infection is variable, ranging from an inactive HBsAg carrier state to a more or less progressive chronic hepatitis, potentially evolving to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Chronic hepatitis may present as typical HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B or HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B. HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis is due to wild type HBV; it represents the early phase of chronic HBV infection. HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis is due to a naturally occurring HBV variant with mutations in the precore or/and basic core promoter regions of the genome; it represents a late phase of chronic HBV infection. The latter form of the disease has been recognized as increasing in many countries within the last decade and it represents the majority of cases in many countries. HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B is generally associated with a more severe liver disease with a very low rate of spontaneous disease remission and a low sustained response rate to antiviral therapy.
Longitudinal studies of patients with chronic hepatitis B indicate that, after diagnosis, the 5-year cumulative incidence of developing cirrhosis ranges from 8-20%. Morbidity and mortality in chronic hepatitis B are linked to evolution to cirrhosis or HCC. The 5-year cumulative incidence of hepatic decompensation is approximately 20%. The 5-year probability of survival is approximately 80-86% in patients with compensated cirrhosis. Patients with decompensated cirrhosis have a poor prognosis (14-35% probability of survival at 5 years). HBV-related end-stage liver disease or HCC are responsible for at least 500000 deaths per year.

top of page

Publication History

Cite this article as

Corresponding author e-mail