Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Unsuccessful therapy with adefovir and entecavir-tenofovir in a patient with chronic hepatitis B infection with previous resistance to lamivudine: a fourteen-year evolution of hepatitis B virus mutations

Lucila Cassino12, Silvina Benetti3, Fabian Fay3, Hugo Tanno4 and Jorge Quarleri12*

Author Affiliations

1 Centro Nacional de Referencia para el SIDA, Departamento de Microbiología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

2 Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina

3 Centro de Diagnóstico Médico de Alta Complejidad (CIBIC), Rosario, Argentina

4 Servicio de Gastroenterología y Hepatología del Hospital Provincial de Centenario, Rosario, Argentina

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:178  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-178

Published: 22 June 2011



Complex mutants can be selected under sequential selective pressure by HBV therapy. To determine hepatitis B virus genomic evolution during antiviral therapy we characterized the HBV quasi-species in a patient who did no respond to therapy following lamivudine breakthrough for a period of 14 years.

Case Presentation

The polymerase and precore/core genes were amplified and sequenced at determined intervals in a period of 14 years. HBV viral load and HBeAg/Anti-HBe serological profiles as well as amino transferase levels were also measured. A mixture of lamivudine-resistant genotype A2 HBV strains harboring the rtM204V mutation coexisted in the patient following viral breakthrough to lamivudine. The L180M+M204V dominant mutant displayed strong lamivudine-resistance. As therapy was changed to adefovir, then to entecavir, and finally to entecavir-tenofovir the viral load showed fluctuations but lamivudine-resistant strains continued to be selected, with minor contributions to the HBV quasi-species composition of additional resistance-associated mutations. At the end of the 14-year follow up period, high viral loads were predominant, with viral strains harboring the lamivudine-resistance signature rtL180M+M204V. The precore/core frame A1762T and G1764A double mutation was detected before treatment and remaining in this condition during the entire follow-up. Specific entecavir and tenofovir primary resistance-associated mutations were not detected at any time. Plasma concentrations of tenofovir indicated adequate metabolism of the drug.


We report the selection of HBV mutants carrying well-defined primary resistance mutations that escaped lamivudine in a fourteen-year follow-up period. With the exception of tenofovir resistance mutations, subsequent unselected primary resistance mutations were detected as minor populations into the HBV quasispecies composition during adefovir or entecavir monotherapies. Although tenofovir is considered an appropriate therapeutic alternative for the treatment of entecavir-unresponsive patients, its use was not effective in the case reported here.

hepatitis B virus; lamivudine; resistance; tenofovir; entecavir