Background/aims: In contrast to lamivudine, adefovir dipivoxil (ADV) therapy is associated with delayed and infrequent selection of drug resistant hepatitis B virus (HBV).
Methods: A 52 year-old man was treated with lamivudine for an HBV recurrence on his liver graft. A viral breakthrough was observed and the patient received ADV. Serum HBV DNA decreased rapidly and lamivudine was discontinued while ADV monotherapy was maintained. Serum HBV DNA levels remained suppressed until a second breakthrough was observed. Lamivudine was then reintroduced together with ADV, and serum HBV DNA became undetectable by polymerase chain reaction.
Results: Sequence analyses of the HBV polymerase gene revealed a sequential selection of lamivudine resistance mutations L180M+M204V, followed by a reversion to wild-type, and subsequently the selection of a novel adefovir resistance mutation N236T. Phenotypic analyses in cell culture assays demonstrated that the HBV isolates at the time of ADV breakthrough had reduced susceptibility to ADV. This mutant remained sensitive to lamivudine, entecavir and emtricitabine in vitro.
Conclusions: We describe the first case of sequential selection of lamivudine and adefovir resistant strains of HBV in a liver transplantation patient. The selection of the N236T polymerase mutant was associated with resistance to ADV but remained sensitive to lamivudine in vitro and in vivo.