The addition of adefovir dipivoxil (ADV) to ongoing lamivudine therapy is effective against lamivudine-resistant virus in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. We studied 39 patients who received ADV added to lamivudine for breakthrough hepatitis. We determined early viral changes (12 weeks) in YMDD mutants (rtM204I [YIDD sequence], rtM204V [YVDD]) and rtL180M in all 39 patients as well as amino acid changes in the polymerase reverse transcriptase (rt) region and precore/core promoter mutations in 15 patients who received long-term treatment (more than 1 year). Changes in rtM204I and rtL180M viral loads were greater than that of the rtM204V, albeit statistically insignificant. Moreover, the greatest change in viral load was seen for rtM204I without hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg). The precore mutant was replaced with wild-type virus in three of eight patients after 1 year of added ADV therapy. Compared to baseline with lamivudine therapy only, new amino acid mutations were seen in the rt region at baseline with ADV in seven patients. At 1 year after ADV coadministration, the YMDD motif was replaced with wild-type (rt204M) in two patients, in whom mutations were fewer and of a different type. We conclude that the rtM204I may be more sensitive to ADV in vivo. ADV tended to select wild-type virus from precore mutants. Moreover, viruses that were wild-type in the rt region reappeared after 1 year of ADV coadministration in some patients.
2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.