Hepatitis B virus (HBV) viral load, liver and renal function in adults treated with tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) vs. untreated: a retrospective longitudinal UK cohort study

BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Jun 26;21(1):610. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-06226-0.


Background: Current clinical guidelines recommend treating chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in a minority of cases, but there are relatively scarce data on evolution or progression of liver inflammation and fibrosis in cases of chronic HBV (CHB) that do not meet treatment criteria. We aimed to assess the impact of TDF on liver disease, and the risk of renal impairment in treated CHB patients in comparison to untreated patients.

Methods: We studied a longitudinal ethnically diverse CHB cohort in the UK attending out-patient clinics between 2005 and 2018. We examined TDF treatment (vs. untreated) as the main exposure, with HBV DNA viral load (VL), ALT, elastography scores and eGFR as the main outcomes, using paired tests and mixed effects model for longitudinal measurements. Additionally, decline of eGFR during follow-up was quantified within individuals by thresholds based on clinical guidelines. Baseline was defined as treatment initiation for TDF group and the beginning of clinical follow-up for untreated group respectively.

Results: We included 206 adults (60 on TDF, 146 untreated), with a median ± IQR follow-up duration of 3.3 ± 2.8 years. The TDF group was significantly older (median age 39 vs. 35 years, p = 0.004) and more likely to be male (63% vs. 47%, p = 0.04) compared to the untreated group. Baseline difference between TDF and untreated groups reflected treatment eligibility criteria. As expected, VL and ALT declined significantly over time in TDF-treated patients. Elastography scores normalised during treatment in the TDF group reflecting regression of inflammation and/or fibrosis. However, 6/81 (7.4%) of untreated patients had a progression of fibrosis stage from F0-F1 to F2 or F3. There was no evidence of difference in rates or incidence of renal impairment during follow-up in the TDF vs. untreated group.

Conclusions: Risk of liver inflammation and fibrosis may be raised in untreated patients compared to those receiving TDF, and TDF may benefit a larger percentage of the CHB population.

Keywords: Chronic hepatitis B; Liver fibrosis; Renal impairment; Tenofovir Disoproxil fumarate (TDF) therapy; eGFR.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis B / physiopathology
  • Hepatitis B / virology
  • Hepatitis B e Antigens
  • Hepatitis B virus / drug effects
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis B virus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / virology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney / virology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Liver / virology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tenofovir / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Viral Load / drug effects
  • Viral Load / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hepatitis B e Antigens
  • Tenofovir