Artificial Neural Network Accurately Predicts Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Seroclearance

<div><p>Background & Aims</p><p>Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroclearance and seroconversion are regarded as favorable outcomes of chronic hepatitis B (CHB). This study aimed to develop artificial neural networks (ANNs) that could accurately predict HBsAg seroclearance or seroconversion on the basis of available serum variables.</p><p>Methods</p><p>Data from 203 untreated, HBeAg-negative CHB patients with spontaneous HBsAg seroclearance (63 with HBsAg seroconversion), and 203 age- and sex-matched HBeAg-negative controls were analyzed. ANNs and logistic regression models (LRMs) were built and tested according to HBsAg seroclearance and seroconversion. Predictive accuracy was assessed with area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC).</p><p>Results</p><p>Serum quantitative HBsAg (qHBsAg) and HBV DNA levels, qHBsAg and HBV DNA reduction were related to HBsAg seroclearance (P<0.001) and were used for ANN/LRM-HBsAg seroclearance building, whereas, qHBsAg reduction was not associated with ANN-HBsAg seroconversion (P = 0.197) and LRM-HBsAg seroconversion was solely based on qHBsAg (P = 0.01). For HBsAg seroclearance, AUROCs of ANN were 0.96, 0.93 and 0.95 for the training, testing and genotype B subgroups respectively. They were significantly higher than those of LRM, qHBsAg and HBV DNA (all P<0.05). Although the performance of ANN-HBsAg seroconversion (AUROC 0.757) was inferior to that for HBsAg seroclearance, it tended to be better than those of LRM, qHBsAg and HBV DNA.</p><p>Conclusions</p><p>ANN identifies spontaneous HBsAg seroclearance in HBeAg-negative CHB patients with better accuracy, on the basis of easily available serum data. More useful predictors for HBsAg seroconversion are still needed to be explored in the future.</p></div>