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This is a significant worldwide problem. Transmission is through blood and body fluids, including sexual contact. It can cause acute infection and can lead to chronic carrier states or fulminant hepatitis leading to death. Chronic carriers are at risk for cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and death. The Delta virus is a defective human pathogenic virus which requires co-infection with the hepatitis B virus to survive.


Hepatitis B infection: pathogenesis and management.

Lok AS.

Division of Gastroenterology, University of Michigan and Ann Arbor VA Medical Center, 48109, USA.

J Hepatol 2000;32(1 Suppl):89-97 Abstract quote

Although hepatitis B is an ancient disease, most of the advances in our knowledge of its epidemiology, prevention, pathogenesis, natural history and treatment were made in the last 30 years. The prospect of global eradication of HBV infection within the next 50 years is technologically possible but implementation of worldwide vaccination against hepatitis B will require significantly more time to overcome the social and economic hurdles. While there is reasonable optimism that HBV infection will be eradicated, there are currently 300 million HBV carriers worldwide who are at risk of dying from liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma, and there will continue to be new cases of HBV infection for many more years.

Thus, HBV infection cannot be considered to be a health problem of the past. The focus of hepatitis B research at the turn of the millenium will be the development of more effective therapies that can be applied to all patients with chronic HBV infection. These treatments need to be effective in inhibiting HBV DNA synthesis and in eliminating ccc DNA. They may involve monotherapy with more potent antiviral agents that do not induce resistance, but are more likely to require a combination of antiviral agents or antiviral and immunomodulatory agents. These treatments must be safe, convenient to administer, and affordable. It is likely that new therapies with increasing efficacy will be available in the next one to two decades and combination therapy will be used widely by 2010. These treatments will induce sustained remission in the majority of patients who can afford them but provision of treatment to all those who need them will be more difficult. Other areas of hepatitis B that need to be addressed are the prevalence of occult HBV infection, the changing epidemiology and clinical significance of HBV variants, in particular the A1896 mutant, and the mechanisms of immune clearance and pathogenesis.

Stercorarial shedding and transtadial transmission of hepatitis B virus by common bed bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae).

Blow JA, Turell MJ, Silverman AL, Walker ED.

Department of Entomology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824, USA.

J Med Entomol 2001 Sep;38(5):694-700 Abstract quote

Transtadial persistence and stercorarial shedding of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in common bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L., was studied by using experimental infectious blood feedings, infectious intrathoracic inoculations, and virus detection by polymerase chain reaction and Southern hybridization. Results showed that HBV persisted after an infectious blood meal in bed bug bodies for up to 35 d after the infectious blood meal. It was passed transtadially through one molt regardless of instar, was shed in fecal droplets for up to 35 d after the infectious blood meal, but was not passed transovarially. In bugs inoculated intrathoracically, HBV was detected for 21 d postinoculation. Previous studies detected the hepatitis B surface antigen found on both infectious and noninfectious particles in bed bugs.

In this study, the presence of nucleic acids amplified from a conserved core region of the viral genome in bodies and feces of C. lectularius suggests that the HBV virus may be mechanically transmitted in feces or when bugs are crushed, during feeding.

Analysis of HBV infection after blood transfusion in Japan through investigation of a comprehensive donor specimen repository.

Matsumoto C, Tadokoro K, Fujimura K, Hirakawa S, Mitsunaga S, Juji T.

Japanese Red Cross Central Blood Center, 4-1-31, Hiroo, Shibuya-ko, Tokyo 150-0012, Japan.

Transfusion 2001 Jul;41(7):878-84 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND: To understand the risk of transfusion-transmitted viral infection, it is important to precisely assess cases of infection that follow transfusion.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: HBV infections noted after transfusion in 1997, 1998, and 1999 were analyzed. Transfusion in all these cases was performed before NAT was adopted for donor screening. To detect viral infection, PCR and serologic tests for HBV were performed retrospectively on all blood samples from implicated donors that had been stored in a frozen state after each donation. The concentration of HBV genome was measured in HBV-positive blood samples.

RESULTS: One hundred three cases of HBV infection were analyzed; of these, only 16, including at least 10 infections due to window-period (HBsAg-positive by reverse particle hemagglutination assay) donations, were confirmed by further testing to be related to transfusion. The concentrations of HBV genome were very low in four blood samples (<50, 400, 500, and 800 genome equivalents/mL of plasma).

CONCLUSIONS: The remaining risk of transfusion transmission of HBV infection before the adoption of NAT was mainly due to window-period donations, including one that was made before the HBV genome was detectable by PCR. However, it was determined that transfusion was not responsible in many cases for HBV infection after transfusion.



Lichen planus occurring after hepatitis B vaccination: A new case

Sultan Al-Khenaizan, MBBS, FRCPC

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;45:614-5 Abstract quote

Lichen planus is a pruritic inflammatory dermatosis of unknown origin. An increased prevalence of a wide range of liver disease in lichen planus has been observed by many authors. Most recently, many reports appeared of the occurrence of lichen planus after administration of different types of hepatitis B vaccines.

We report one case and briefly review this intriguing observation.

Frequent presence of HBV in the sera of HBsAg-negative, anti-HBc-positive blood donors.

Yotsuyanagi H, Yasuda K, Moriya K, Shintani Y, Fujie H, Tsutsumi T, Nojiri N, Juji T, Hoshino H, Shimoda K, Hino K, Kimura S, Iino S, Koike K.

Department of Internal Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.

Transfusion 2001 Sep;41(9):1093-9 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND: Recent studies have revealed that HBV may not be cleared even after the disappearance of serum HBsAg. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the replication of HBV persists in HBsAg-negative blood donors who lack apparent liver disease.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Serum HBV was examined by using PCR coupled with Southern blotting in 50 blood donors who were identified to be HBsAg negative but anti-HBc positive.

RESULTS: HBV DNA was detected in the sera from 19 (38%) of 50 donors. In 11 of the 19, HBV existed exclusively as immune complexes, while HBV presumably did not exist as immune complexes in the remaining eight. The levels of HBV DNA were similar to those in patients who had recovered from acute HBV. Some nucleotide substitutions, which did not confer amino acid changes in the major epitope of HBsAg, were found in the preS-S regions.

CONCLUSION: The replication of HBV is ongoing in a substantial proportion of healthy blood donors who have anti-HBc. Blood from such donors may contain very low levels of HBV free of immune complex formation and should be excluded for transfusion. The fact that such blood donors apparently lacked liver disease suggests no pathogenicity of such "occult" HBV.

HCV genotype and "silent" HBV coinfection: two main risk factors for a more severe liver disease.

Sagnelli E, Coppola N, Scolastico C, Mogavero AR, Filippini P, Piccinino F.

Institute of Infectious Diseases, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.

J Med Virol 2001 Jul;64(3):350-5 Abstract quote

To evaluate whether HCV genotype and a "silent" HBV infection may be related to a more severe clinical presentation of liver disease, 205 anti-HCV/HCV-RNA positive, HBsAg/anti-HBs negative patients with chronic hepatitis (113 males and 92 females; median age 55 years, range 18-77), were studied on presentation at the Liver Unit from January 1993 to December 1997.

Presence of serum anti-HBc, in the absence of HBsAg and anti-HBs, was considered a marker of "silent" HBV infection. Of the 205 patients, 134 had undergone percutaneous liver biopsy. Two main diagnosis groups were established: the mild liver disease group (76 patients), and the severe liver disease group (109 patients); 20 patients who had refused to undergo liver biopsy were not included in the clinical and virological evaluation because the diagnosis was uncertain. The prevalence of severe liver disease was similar in the genotype 1 and non-1 groups (61.3% of 98 patients with genotype 1 and 52.9% of 70 patients with a non-1 genotype). Instead, the 88 patients with "silent" HBV infection showed a higher percentage of severe liver disease than the 97 anti-HBc negative patients (72.7% vs. 46.4%, respectively: P < 0.0005). Of the 88 anti-HBc positive patients, the prevalence of those with severe liver disease was similar in the 32 cases with serum HBV-DNA as detected by PCR and in the 56 HBV-DNA negative (81.2% vs. 67.8%, P = 0.4). The relation between "silent" HBV infection and severe liver disease was observed both in genotype 1 and non-1 infected patients. Nevertheless, the anti-HBc negative patients infected by genotype 1 showed a severe liver disease more frequently than those infected by a non-1 genotype, with a difference that is significant to the statistical analysis (P < 0.05).

The findings suggest that "silent" HBV infection in anti-HCV positive chronic hepatitis enhances the severity of the liver disease. Evidence was also found that in patients without "silent" HBV infection there is a correlation between the presence of HCV genotype 1 and the severity of liver disease.



Does hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotype influence the clinical outcome of HBV infection?

Mayerat C, Mantegani A, Frei PC.

Division of Immunology and Allergy, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, CH-1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.

J Viral Hepat 1999 Jul;6(4):299-304 Abstract quote

Between 5 and 10% of adults infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) develop a chronic infection lasting longer than 6 months, which may lead to advanced liver disease. HBV can be classified into six genotypic families: A, B, C, D, E and F, but only genotypes A and D are significantly represented in western Europe, where they account for some 90% of cases of infection with HBV.

In the present study, we investigated a possible association between HBV genotype A or D and clinical outcome of the infection. We compared the prevalence of these genotypes in a group of patients with chronic active hepatitis to that of a group with acute resolving hepatitis. In patients with chronic active hepatitis, genotype A was found in 28 of 35 patients and genotype D in only four. The remaining three patients were infected with genotype non-A, non-D. In contrast, genotype D was found in 24 of 30 patients with acute hepatitis, whilst genotype A was found in only three patients of this group. Three were infected with genotype non-A, non-D. Our results show a clear association between genotype A and chronic outcome (Ficher's exact test: two-sided P-value, P < 0.0001).

They suggest that HBV genotypes may play a role in the virus-host relationship. Possible mechanisms for such a role are discussed.

Acute exacerbations of chronic hepatitis B are rarely associated with superinfection of hepatitis B virus.

Kao JH, Chen PJ, Lai MY, Chen DS.

Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Hepatitis Research Center, National Taiwan University College of Medicine and National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.

Hepatology 2001 Oct;34(4 Pt 1):817-23 Abstract quote

There are 7 genotypes of hepatitis B virus (HBV). Whether superinfection of HBV carriers with different HBV genotypes occurs remains unknown.

We therefore determined the HBV genotype and association between superinfection and acute exacerbation of disease in a cohort of 244 patients with chronic HBV infection who had elevated serum aminotransferase levels for at least 1 year.

Within this group, 103 patients experienced acute exacerbation with an annual incidence of 13%, and 20 of the 103 patients had IgM antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (IgM anti-HBc). These 20 patients had a higher prevalence of genotype C infection (65%) than the remaining 83 anti-core IgM-negative patients (40%) who also had acute exacerbations (P <.05). Detailed analysis of HBV genotypes and sequences of the variable pre-S gene were determined in serial samples from 20 patients with IgM anti-HBc-positive acute exacerbations (group A), 20 patients with IgM anti-HBc-negative acute exacerbations (group B), and 20 patients without exacerbations (group C). Two (10%) of the group A patients had virologic evidence of HBV superinfection during acute exacerbation, one superinfected with heterotypic virus and the other with homotypic virus. The newly introduced virus disappeared after the exacerbation and the original virus resumed thereafter. The calculated prevalence of HBV superinfection in the hepatitis B carriers and those with acute exacerbations was 0.8% (2 of 244) and 1.9% (2 of 103), respectively.

In conclusion, superinfection of HBV on hepatitis B carriers indeed occurs and may cause acute exacerbations, albeit at a low frequency even in hyperendemic areas of HBV infection.

Genotype may correlate with liver carcinogenesis and tumor characteristics in cirrhotic patients infected with hepatitis B virus subtype adw.

Tsubota A, Arase Y, Ren F, Tanaka H, Ikeda K, Kumada H.

Department of Gastroenterology, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.

J Med Virol 2001 Oct;65(2):257-65 Abstract quote

To identify the influence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotype on development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and clinical outcome in chronic HBV infection, 26 consecutive cirrhotic patients infected with HBV subtype adw were investigated prospectively.

HBV serology was undertaken using subtype-specific antibodies against hepatitis B surface antigens. The HBV genotype was determined by sequencing directly the polymerase chain reaction products of the HBV S gene. When HCC occurred, patients underwent transcatheter arterial embolization therapy. If tumor necrosis was incomplete, additional embolization therapy was carried out after a 3- to 4-month interval. At a median follow-up of 14.1 years (range 2.2 to 31.7), HCC occurred in 9 (35%) of 26 patients. Nineteen patients were infected with genotype B and 7 with genotype C. Four of the 19 genotype B patients (21%) and 5 of the 7 genotype C patients (71%) developed HCC (P = 0.058). Patient age (<45 years or 45 < or = ) at diagnosis of cirrhosis was the only significant independent factor influencing liver carcinogenesis by multiple logistic regression analysis and Cox's regression analysis (P = 0.0069 and 0.029, respectively). When analysis was limited to the age of 45 years or more at the last visit, genotype was the only contributory factor to HCC development by univariate analysis (P = 0.038). Whereas genotype B patients responded well to embolization therapy and had no recurrence of HCC for a prolonged period of time, genotype C patients showed poor responses and died of hepatic failure due to rapid HCC progression despite embolization therapy.

The cumulative incidence of survival was significantly higher in the genotype B group (P = 0.0049). The HBV genotype correlated with the development of HCC, response to embolization therapy, and recurrence of HCC. Determination of HBV genotype may be useful in predicting outcomes in HBV subtype adw-related cirrhosis.


Natural history of chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

Yuen MF, Lai CL.

Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong SAR, China.

J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2000 May;15 Suppl:E20-4 Abstract quote

In chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection acquired during adulthood, which is the type mostly seen in the Caucasian population, there is biochemical and histologic regression after HBeAg seroconversion, and the risk of death from hepatitis B-related causes is low.

In chronic HBV infection acquired during birth or early childhood, which is the type most commonly seen in the Asian population, there is a prolonged phase of immunotolerance. The immune clearance phase is characterized by multiple acute exacerbations preceeded by elevations in serum HBV DNA levels, HBeAg concentration and HBeAg/anti-HBe immune complexes. Of these patients, 2.4% may develop hepatic decompensation during the stage of HBeAg seroconversion. The development of cirrhosis occurs more frequently in patients with episodes of decompensation and with repeated severe acute exacerbations. However progression to cirrhosis can be relatively silent and can occur even in children. After HBeAg seroconversion, precore and core promotor mutations occur frequently in the Asian population. However, there is little correlation between the occurrence of these mutations and alanine aminotransferase elevation in patients who are positive for anti-HBe. A

lthough cirrhosis develops during the process of HBeAg seroconversion, 68% of the complications of cirrhosis and of hepatocellular carcinoma occur after HBeAg seroconversion. These complications may still occur even after HBsAg seroclearance.

Natural history of chronic hepatitis B virus infection in adults with emphasis on the occurrence of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Chu CM.

Liver Research Unit, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, Taipei, Taiwan.

J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2000 May;15 Suppl:E25-30 Abstract quote

The natural course of perinatally acquired hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has three phases.

In the first 'immune tolerance phase', patients are HBeAg positive and have high serum levels of HBV DNA, but have no symptoms, normal ALT levels and minimal histological activity.

The second 'immune clearance phase' usually occurs between 15 and 35 years of age, during which HBV replication declines, accompanied by increased serum ALT levels and inflammatory activity in the liver; HBeAg to anti-HBe seroconversion is then observed, frequently preceded by a flare of the ALT level. The average rate of spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion is 10% per year. In the third 'low-replicative phase', serum HBsAg persists, but HBeAg is no longer detectable and HBV DNA can only be detected by PCR assay. During this phase, patients are usually asymptomatic and liver disease is inactive; some patients, however, may progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The ultimate outcome of chronic HBV infection appears to depend on the duration and severity of liver injury during the immune clearance phase. About 2.1% of patients with chronic type B hepatitis develop cirrhosis each year. Patients who have a severe acute exacerbation complicated by subacute hepatic failure or who have recurrent episodes of acute exacerbations with bridging hepatic necrosis are more likely to develop cirrhosis. A significant proportion of those with HBsAg eventually develop HCC; they have a 100-fold increased risk of HCC relative to those without. The development of HCC, however, is closely related to the severity of the underlying liver disease. The annual incidence of HCC is only 0.1% in asymptomatic HBsAg individual, 1% in patients with chronic hepatitis B, but increases to 3-10% in patients with cirrhosis. Some anti-HBe-positive patients continue to have active liver disease and they should be tested for HBV DNA by hybridization assay to determine whether the disease results from replicative precore mutant HBV infection or other causes of liver disease, such as superinfection with HCV and HDV. A substantial number of apparently healthy HBV-infected individuals are first recognized when they present with episodes of acute hepatitis. About 30% of these cases could be attributed to other hepatotropic virus superinfection. Acute viral hepatitis in patients with concurrent HBV infection is associated with an increased risk of fulminant hepatic failure. Finally, HBsAg disappears from serum in about 1% of patients each year. HCV superinfection can enhance the termination of HBsAg positivity. HCV, however, replaces HBV as the dominant cause of chronic viral hepatitis.

The outcome of HBV-infected persons with 'spontaneous' seroclearance of HBsAg is usually favourable, though progress to cirrhosis and HCC is still possible.


Potential role of bcl-2 and bax mRNA and protein expression in chronic hepatitis type B and C: a clinicopathologic study.

Tsamandas AC, Thomopoulos K, Zolota V, Kourelis T, Karatzas T, Ravazoula P, Tepetes K, Petsas T, Karavias D, Karatza C, Bonikos DS, Gogos C.

Departments of Pathology, University of Patras School of Medicine, Patras, Greece.
Mod Pathol. 2003 Dec;16(12):1273-88 Abstract quote.  

Bcl-2 oncoprotein regulates programmed cell death by providing a survival advantage to rapidly proliferating cells, and bax protein promotes apoptosis by enchanting cell susceptibility to apoptotic stimuli.

In this study, we assessed the expression of bcl-2 and bax in liver biopsies from patients with chronic hepatitis (CH) Type B (HBV) and C (HCV). The study comprised 65 liver biopsies from 65 patients with HBV (n = 37) and HCV (n = 28) and 10 normal liver biopsies as controls. The HAI score ranged from 3/18-13/18, and the fibrosis Stage, from 1-6 (7 HBV/10 HCV). Pathologic examination included the following: (1) immunohistochemical stains in paraffin sections for bcl-2 and bax protein expression, (2) Western blot analysis (bcl-2 and bax protein levels evaluation), (3) ISH (detection of bcl-2 and bax mRNA), and (4) ISH (TUNEL-ABI [apoptotic body index]). In CH cases, both bcl-2 and bax protein and mRNA were detected in portal and intralobular lymphocytes and in cholangiolar epithelial cells in interface areas and fibrous bands. Bax protein and mRNA was expressed within hepatocytes and epithelial cells of interlobular ducts in portal tracts. Bcl-2 mRNA was present in periportal hepatocytes only in cases with Stage 5-6 fibrosis. Western blot analysis showed a decreased bcl-2 and an increased bax expression toward advanced fibrotic stages.

In CH cases, ABI was reverse correlated with the percentage of bcl-2 expression and was correlated directly with the percentage of bax expression (P <.001). The results of this study suggest that in cases of chronic HBV or HCV infection, bax may be involved in the hepatocyte cycle regulation during infection, whereas its expression in intraportal bile duct epithelium implies that this protein enhances susceptibility of these particular cells to apoptosis. The increased bax expression and ABI in fibrosis Stages 1-5, imply that they are responsible for hepatocytes depletion through apoptosis, during progress of liver fibrosis and fibrous tissue accumulation, until cirrhosis is established. Bcl-2 mRNA expression in periportal hepatocytes only in Stages 5 and 6 suggests that this oncogene is involved in the late stages of progressive liver fibrosis and failure and furthermore that periportal hepatocytes are resistant to apoptosis. Bcl-2 expression, in cholangioles of interface area, suggests that this oncoprotein may be involved in growth regulation of these epithelial cells.

Further research is warranted to specify the exact role of apoptosis and apoptotic genes involved in liver fibrosis process in cases of chronic HBV and HCV infection. This may lead to new strategies in the management of human liver disease to prevent the progression to chronic liver failure.

The clinical significance of core promoter and precore mutations during the natural course and interferon therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis B.

Shindo M, Hamada K, Koya S, Sokawa Y, Okuno T.

Department of Internal Medicine, Akashi Municipal Hospital, Japan.

Am J Gastroenterol 1999 Aug;94(8):2237-45 Abstract quote

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to determine the clinical significance of mutations in core promoter and precore regions in chronic hepatitis B. We investigated changes in these mutations during the natural course and interferon therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis B.

METHODS: A total of 93 patients with hepatitis B virus surface antigen were divided into four groups according to hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)/anti-HBe status and serum aminotransferase levels. Group I (n = 16) comprised HBeAg-positive patients with normal aminotransferase levels, group II (n = 31) HBeAg-positive patients with elevated aminotransferase levels, group III (n = 30) anti-HBe-positive patients with normal aminotransferase levels, and group IV (n = 16) anti-HBe-positive patients with elevated aminotransferase levels. All patients of group II and seven of group IV were treated with interferon. Three serial serum samples per untreated patient and eight samples per treated patient were tested for HBV DNA levels and core promoter and precore mutations by polymerase chain reaction combined with restriction fragment length polymorphism, and some were cloned and sequenced.

RESULTS: Core promoter mutation was found in 38% of group I, 74% of group II, 97% of group III, and 100% of group IV. Precore mutation was found in 6% of group I, 90% of group II, and 100% of groups III and IV. The HBV DNA levels were significantly higher in groups I, II, IV, and III, in that order. Serial determination of these two mutations and viral levels showed that the core promoter mutation appeared to occur first, followed by a completion of the precore mutation along with a decrease in viral levels in patients who seroconverted to anti-HBe after interferon therapy. Interferon therapy suppressed both precore wild- and mutated-type viral levels equally. However, it did not induce any specific mutations.

CONCLUSIONS: Core promoter mutation appeared to develop or complete first, followed by completion of the precore mutation, and the virus with these two mutations seemed to be the form to persist in the natural course of chronic hepatitis B. The clinical significance of these mutations appeared to be profoundly associated with the viral levels.

Early mutation of precore (A1896) region prior to core promoter region mutation leads to decrease of HBV replication and remission of hepatic inflammation.

Karino Y, Toyota J, Sato T, Ohmura T, Yamazaki K, Suga T, Nakamura K, Sugawara M, Matsushima T, Hino K.

Department of Gastroenterology, Sapporo Kosei Hospital, Japan.

Dig Dis Sci 2000 Nov;45(11):2207-13 Abstract quote

To evaluate the relationship between mutations and clinical courses, we investigated precore (preC) and core promoter (CP) mutations and serum HBV DNA levels in HBe-antibody-positive HBV carriers.

Fifty-six asymptomatic carriers (ASC), 29 patients with chronic hepatitis who showed normal ALT levels for more than two years (CH-ASC), 31 patients with chronic hepatitis (CH), and 32 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) were studied. Almost all patients (99.2%) had mutations in either CP or preC. Mutation only in preC (A1896) was present in 52.2% with ASC, 25.0% with CH-ASC, 16.1% with CH, and 8.0% with HCC, and was significantly higher in ASC (P < 0.01).

The patients with only preC mutation showed low HBV DNA levels in each clinical stage. The mutation of preC (A1896) prior to the mutation of CP might control the replication of HBV, which leads to the remission of hepatitis.





From the National Center for Infectious Diseases 2001



Immune due to natural infection
Immune due to Hepatitis B vaccination
IgM anti-HBc
Acutely infected
IgM anti-HBc
Chronically infected

May be recovering from acute HBV infection
May be distantly immune and test not sensitive enough to detect very low level of anti-HBs in serum
May be susceptible with a false positive anti-HBc
May be undetectable level of HBSAg present in the serum and the person is actually a carrier

Hepatitis B virus DNA in patients with chronic liver disease and negative tests for hepatitis B surface antigen.

Brechot C, Degos F, Lugassy C, Thiers V, Zafrani S, Franco D, Bismuth H, Trepo C, Benhamou JP, Wands J, et al.

N Engl J Med 1985 Jan 31;312(5):270-6 Abstract quote

We assessed the presence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA in liver or serum samples from 134 patients with hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-negative chronic liver disease, including 20 with hepatocellular carcinoma.

HBV DNA sequences were detected in 52 of the 88 liver samples (59 per cent), including 17 of the 20 samples from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Presumably "replicative forms" of HBV DNA were detected in only 5 of the 88 liver samples, 3 of which were from patients with no serologic marker for HBV. In most of the liver samples the DNA patterns were consistent with the presence of HBV or a closely related virus. Of the 105 serum samples tested, HBV DNA sequences were identified in 10 (9.5 per cent), 6 of which had no HBV serologic marker. Moreover, HBsAg-associated determinants were detected in 5 of 17 patients who were positive for HBV DNA and in none of 14 patients who were negative.

This study demonstrates the high frequency of HBsAg-negative HBV DNA-positive viral infection of the liver and suggests that multiplication of HBV may occur in the absence of any conventional serologic marker for HBV.

Absence or delayed appearance of hepatitis B core antibody in chronic hepatitis B surface antigen carrier children.

Ni YH, Hsu HY, Chang MH, Chen DS, Lee CY.

Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Republic of China.

J Hepatol 1993 Feb;17(2):150-4 Abstract quote

An absence of the hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carrier children has been reported before, but whether anti-HBc will ultimately appear is unknown.

In a group of 420 HBsAg carrier children who were followed longitudinally, 10 (2.4%) had an absence or delayed appearance of serum anti-HBc.

These 10 children were persistently seropositive for HBsAg, hepatitis B e-antigen, and hepatitis B virus DNA (HBV-DNA). Anti-HBc never appeared in 4, one of whom was a case of hepatitis B vaccine failure and became an HBsAg carrier. Three of the 4 were born to HBsAg carrier mothers. Liver biopsy in one revealed non-specific reactive hepatitis (NSRH). All 4 were asymptomatic during follow-up. Mothers of the other 6 children who had delayed appearance of anti-HBc were also HBsAg carriers. The children seroconverted to anti-HBc positivity between 2 and 8 years of age, and the titer of serum anti-HBc at the first appearance varied.

There were no significant changes in liver function tests, HBV-DNA levels, or associated symptoms and signs before and after seroconversion. Liver biopsies were performed before anti-HBc seroconversion in 2 children and showed NSRH. All 10 children had a moderate to high replication of HBV as shown by the high titer of HBsAg and HBV-DNA. The absence of anti-HBc occurred almost exclusively in children who were infected perinatally.

The natural history of asymptomatic hepatitis B surface antigen carriers.

de Franchis R, Meucci G, Vecchi M, Tatarella M, Colombo M, Del Ninno E, Rumi MG, Donato MF, Ronchi G.

Istituto di Medicina Interna, University of Milan, Italy.

Ann Intern Med 1993 Feb 1;118(3):191-4 Abstract quote

OBJECTIVE: To assess the long-term outcome in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers who have normal liver function tests, focusing on survival and the development of severe liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma.

DESIGN: Cohort study with a mean follow-up of 130 months.

SETTING: Liver clinic of a referral center.

PATIENTS: Ninety-two HBsAg-positive blood donors with normal liver function tests.

MEASUREMENTS: Histologic evaluation of liver specimens at baseline; clinical, biochemical, and serologic follow-up; and repeat liver biopsy if clinically indicated or after 10 years of follow-up.

RESULTS: At baseline, 69 subjects had normal histologic findings or only minor abnormalities, 18 had chronic persistent hepatitis, and 5 had mild chronic active hepatitis. Serum enzyme levels remained normal in 58 of 68 patients who had regular follow-up. Three patients had biochemical changes consistent with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection; in one of these patients, a later histologic evaluation showed progression to chronic active hepatitis. One patient developed alcoholic cirrhosis. Six other patients had mild or transient transaminase elevations, with no evidence of HBV replication, hepatitis D virus infection, hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, or histologic deterioration. Liver histologic findings also remained unchanged in 21 patients who showed no biochemical changes during 10 years of follow-up and consented to have repeated liver biopsy. Ten patients showed loss of HBsAg; 2 of these patients acquired antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs). All patients who did not have regular follow-up, except 1, were interviewed by telephone during 1990: All denied having liver disease. No patients developed hepatocellular carcinoma.

CONCLUSIONS: Italian HBsAg carriers with initially normal liver function tests have an excellent prognosis: Delta superinfection is infrequent and the risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma is low.

Long-term persistence of hepatitis B virus DNA in the serum of children with chronic hepatitis B after hepatitis B e antigen to antibody seroconversion.

Bortolotti F, Wirth S, Crivellaro C, Alberti A, Martine U, de Moliner L.

Clinica Medica 2, University of Padua, Italy.

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1996 Apr;22(3):270-4 Abstract quote

To evaluate the prevalence and duration of viremia in relation to the features of liver disease, we investigated hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA by the polymerase chain reaction in the serum of 39 children with chronic hepatitis B, after hepatitis B e antigen to antibody seroconversion.

During a mean observation period of 8.2 +/- 3.8 years after seroconversion, all patients were asymptomatic; 36 had persistently normal alanine aminotransferase levels, and three had occasional mild alterations. Liver histology, checked in 21 patients, showed persistent hepatitis in nine, fibrosis in 10, and cirrhosis in two cases. HBV DNA was always undetectable by dot blot hybridization. Five children eventually cleared hepatitis B surface antigen, including one with cirrhosis who developed liver cancer at 19 years. HBV DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction in 87% of children within 5 years of follow-up, in 58% of cases 6-10 years after seroconversion (p < 0.001), and in 50% of patients investigated later. Long-term viremia was found in two patients (40%) who cleared HBsAg, including the one who developed liver cancer. The chances of clearing viremia during follow-up were higher in children with acute hepatitis at the onset of illness (86%) than in those with asymptomatic onset (37%; p < 0.05).

Our results show that low levels of HBV viremia, probably reflecting low levels of virus replication, persist for several years in children with chronic hepatitis B after hepatitis B e antigen to antibody seroconversion and remission of liver disease, even after the clearance of hepatitis B surface antigen. Persistent replication could support mild biochemical alterations and inflammatory liver lesions. It could allow late reactivation of liver disease and may play a role in the development of carcinoma.

Relation between laboratory test results and histological hepatitis activity in individuals positive for hepatitis B surface antigen and antibodies to hepatitis B e antigen.

ter Borg F, ten Kate FJ, Cuypers HT, Leentvaar-Kuijpers A, Oosting J, Wertheim-van Dillen PM, Honkoop P, Rasch MC, de Man RA, van Hattum J, Chamuleau RA, Reesink HW, Jones EA.

Department of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Lancet 1998 Jun 27;351(9120):1914-8 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND: Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibodies to hepatitis B e antigen (anti-HBe) commonly coexist, and laboratory tests are often requested to assess histological hepatitis activity. An optimum panel of tests has not been found and the usefulness of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA assays in this context has not been established. We assessed various blood tests to find which best predicted hepatitis activity.

METHODS: Routine plasma biochemical liver tests and serum HBV DNA (hybridisation and PCR assays) were assessed prospectively in 123 patients positive for HBsAg and anti-HBe. We scored histological hepatitis activity (hepatitis activity index) and determined whether chronic active hepatitis (chronic hepatitis with portal and periportal lesions) was present. We analysed the relation between laboratory data and the hepatitis activity index or risk of chronic active hepatitis by multiple regression and multiple logistic regression, respectively.

FINDINGS: The analyses provided models for predicting either the hepatitis activity index or the risk of chronic active hepatitis. Aspartate aminotransferase was the most important test in the two models. The contribution of HBV DNA and other assays, especially alanine-aminotransferase activity, were of no practical importance.

INTERPRETATION: Because screening by aspartate-aminotransferase activity could not be improved by the addition of other assays or HBV DNA, patients positive for HBsAg and anti-HBe could be screened for chronic active hepatitis with a single assay and counselling of patients can be improved if proper reference values are used.

Hepatitis B surface antigen disappearance and hepatitis B surface antigen subtype: a prospective, long-term, follow-up study of Japanese residents of Okinawa, Japan with chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

Furusyo N, Hayashi J, Sawayama Y, Kishihara Y, Kashiwagi S.

Department of General Medicine, Kyushu University Hospital, Fukuoka, Japan.

Am J Trop Med Hyg 1999 Apr;60(4):616-22 Abstract quote

To determine the natural course of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) disappearance in chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and the factors related to its disappearance, 946 HBsAg carriers in Okinawa, Japan were prospectively followed for up to 19 years (mean = 9.2 years).

The disappearance of HBsAg, as determined by radioimmunoassay (RIA), was observed in 62 (6.6%) and the overall annual disappearance rate was 0.79%/year. Its disappearance was more frequent in 60 (7.4%) of 815 serum samples negative for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) by RIA at entry compared with only two (1.5%) of 131 serum samples that were HBeAg positive by RIA at entry (P < 0.05).

Stepwise logistic regression analysis showed that age and HBsAg subtype were significantly associated with HBsAg disappearance (both P < 0.05), and that carriers with subtype adr (odds ratio = 2.87) had an increased probability of clearing HBsAg compared with carriers with subtype adw. Conversely, HBeAg disappearance was earlier in those with the adw subtype than in those with adr. Hepatitis B virus DNA was not detected by the polymerase chain reaction after HBsAg disappearance in any of the 62 from whom it had disappeared. The HBsAg titer, as measured by reverse passive hemagglutination, was related to the time to its disappearance; the higher the titer, the longer the time to disappearance.

These findings suggest that HBeAg negativity, a more advanced age, and low titers of HBsAg are favorable factors for HBsAg disappearance in the natural course of chronic HBV infection. Moreover, HBsAg subtype adr was a predictive factor for HBsAg disappearance, whereas subtype adw was predictive of early HBeAg disappearance.

Serological pattern "anti-HBc alone": report on a workshop.

Grob P, Jilg W, Bornhak H, Gerken G, Gerlich W, Gunther S, Hess G, Hudig H, Kitchen A, Margolis H, Michel G, Trepo C, Will H, Zanetti A, Mushahwar I.

Clinical Immunology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland.

J Med Virol 2000 Dec;62(4):450-5 Abstract quote

In areas with low hepatitis B virus (HBV) endemicity such as most parts of Europe and the United States "anti-HBc alone" is found in 10-20% of all individuals with HBV markers, i.e., 1-4% of the population. In about 10% of these individuals HBV DNA is detected by PCR, the proportions varying greatly depending on the population studied, being highest in individuals coinfected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) (above 35%) and HIV (above 85%). A small proportion of individuals with "anti-HBc alone" are in the window phase of an HBV infection or in a stage of late HBV immunity.

For the large proportion of these individuals this is not the case and they are thought to have an unresolved HBV-infection or a chronic infection in a late or "low grade" productive state. Currently, limited studies have been performed concerning the clinical aspects of individuals with "anti-HBc alone" and suspected chronic HBV infection. The majority of these individuals seem to be healthy. Some chronic carriers with "anti-HBc alone," however, do present signs of chronic hepatitis. Individuals with "anti-HBc alone" are potentially infectious. This is exemplified by a few case reports of HBV transmission to sexual contacts, perinatal transmission between mother and newborns and in blood recipients.

Recommendations are given in relation to both the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the individuals with "anti-HBc alone" and in the blood banking and transplantation services.

Spontaneous loss of hepatitis B surface antigen in chronic carriers, based on a long-term follow-up study in Goto Islands, Japan.

Kato Y, Nakao K, Hamasaki K, Kato H, Nakata K, Kusumoto Y, Eguchi K.

First Department of Internal Medicine, Nagasaki University School of Medicine, Japan.

J Gastroenterol 2000;35(3):201-5 Abstract quote

Annual mass examination was performed between 1972 and 1997 in Tomie-town, Goto Islands, Japan, where hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is very prevalent.

In the present study, the incidence of spontaneous loss of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in HBsAg carriers was determined in this area.

Three thousand and nineteen inhabitants were tested for HBsAg two or more times in our annual surveys. Among them, 131 (4.3%) were defined as chronic HBsAg carriers based on the persistence of HBsAg for 1 or more years. These 131 subjects were followed for 12.2 +/- 7.6 years. During the follow-up period, spontaneous loss of HBsAg occurred in 38 (29%) of the 131 carriers, with a yearly incidence of 2.5%. This loss was seen more frequently in carriers aged 40 years or more on enrollment than in those aged less than 40 years during the same observation periods (P = 0.0141), irrespective of sex or the results of liver function tests. The values for liver function test results were similar before and after loss of HBsAg in these carriers. Stored serum samples were available for later analysis of HBV-DNA by polymerase chain reaction in 32 carriers with loss of HBsAg.

The HBV-DNA sequence was detected in 26 (81%) and 2 of the 32 carriers (6%) before and after loss of HBsAg, respectively. These results indicate that spontaneous loss of HBsAg, largely attributable to clearance of viremia, occurs age-dependently in chronic carriers.


Quantification of intrahepatic hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA in patients with chronic HBV infection.

Cacciola I, Pollicino T, Squadrito G, Cerenzia G, Villari D, de Franchis R, Santantonio T, Brancatelli S, Colucci G, Raimondo G.

Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Universita di Messina, Messina, Italy.

Hepatology 2000 Feb;31(2):507-12 Abstract quote

No data are available about the amount of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genomes in liver of patients with chronic HBV infection. The aim of this study was to quantify the intrahepatic HBV DNA in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive patients with either active or suppressed viral replication and in HBsAg-negative subjects with occult HBV infection.

We optimized the Roche "Amplicor HBV Monitor" kit for quantifying liver HBV DNA and analyzed hepatic DNA extracts and serum samples from 19 HBs-Ag-positive and 43 HBsAg-negative individuals.

Eight of the HBsAg carriers had active HBV replication, and for 3 of them we analyzed samples obtained before and at the end of 1 year of lamivudine treatment. Five hepatitis Delta virus (HDV) coinfected patients and 6 healthy HBsAg carriers had inhibited HBV activity. Among the HBsAg-negative subjects 21 had occult HBV infection and 22 had no evidence of HBV infection. The median of HBV genomes per microgram of liver DNA milliliter of serum was 34,500 to 2,620,000 in patients with active viral replication, 20,000 to 3,900, 000 before and 10,000 to 2,800 at the end of therapy in lamivudine-treated individuals, 9,800 to 600 in HDV-infected individuals, and 7,450 to 17,400 in healthy HBsAg carriers.

These data indicate that cases with suppressed HBV activity, despite the very low levels of viremia, maintain a relatively high amount of intrahepatic viral genomes. This virus reservoir is likely involved in HBV reactivation, which is usually observed after stopping lamivudine treatment. Finally, the analysis of cases with occult HBV infection showed that the assay we used was able to specifically detect and quantify as few as 100 copies of viral genomes per microgram of liver DNA.


Quantitative detection of hepatitis B virus DNA in human sera by branched-DNA signal amplification.

Chen CH, Wang JT, Lee CZ, Sheu JC, Wang TH, Chen DS.

Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei.

J Virol Methods 1995 May;53(1):131-7 Abstract quote

Serum samples from 116 patients with hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), from 7 patients without detectable HBsAg and from 71 healthy blood donors were tested by a branched DNA signal amplification (bDNA) method.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA was detected in 39 (34%) of the 116 samples with HBsAg, including 19 (70%) of the 27 patients who were also positive for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg). In contrast, one of the 7 patients without HBsAg and none of the 71 blood donors were positive for HBV DNA. The titers of serum HBV DNA did not correlate with the serum alanine aminotransferase levels. All the samples positive by the bDNA assay were positive by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). However, 59% of the PCR-positive samples were bDNA-negative. None of the PCR-negative samples was positive by the bDNA method. Although the sensitivity of bDNA method is not entirely satisfactory, it showed excellent specificity and reproducibility.

Thus it may be considered as an alternative for quantitative detection of HBV DNA in serum samples of patients with relatively high titers of HBV viremia.


Evaluation of a new PCR assay with competitive internal control sequence for blood donor screening.

Drosten C, Weber M, Seifried E, Roth WK.

Institute of Transfusion Medicine and Immunohematology, Red Cross Blood Donor Service of Hesse, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Transfusion 2000 Jun;40(6):718-24 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND: High-throughput nucleic acid testing for transfusion-relevant viruses by PCR requires contamination-proof methods with high sensitivity and validity. A new PCR reagent kit (TaqMan, PE BioSystems) reduces the risk of carry-over contamination by eliminating post-PCR processing.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Oligonucleotide design was done with software specialized for designing the assays' (TaqMan) primers and probes. A template-derived competitive internal control sequence designed through site-directed mutagenesis was used to reveal failures in amplification. Assay sensitivity was determined for single-donor and single-patient testing and by spiking sample mini-pools. Three seroconversion panels were tested.

RESULTS: Sensitivity is high, reaching 300 HBV genomes per mL of single-patient material on direct testing. A detection limit of 1000 HBV genome equivalents per mL of donor plasma is achieved for 96 pooled samples. The window period for HBV infection was reduced by 17, 10, and 63 days from that for HBsAg screening in three seroconverting donors.

CONCLUSION: The assay provides sufficient sensitivity to be superior to HBsAg screening in transfusion medicine and will be useful in clinical laboratories because of its ease of handling.

Comparison of the sensitivity of NAT using pooled donor samples for HBV and that of a serologic HBsAg assay.

Sato S, Ohhashi W, Ihara H, Sakaya S, Kato T, Ikeda H.

Hokkaido Red Cross Blood Center, Sapporo, Japan.

Transfusion 2001 Sep;41(9):1107-13 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND: Studies were conducted using samples from early and late-stage HBV-infected persons to determine the pool size at which PCR had better sensitivity than a sensitive HBsAg chemoluminescence immunoassay (CLIA-HBsAg).

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: HBV seroconversion panels were tested for HBsAg by CLIA and for HBV DNA by nested PCR (95% hit rate: 100 copies/mL); PCR was carried out at various dilutions. HBV serologically positive samples that were detected from the simultaneous screening of 540,161 routine whole-blood donations using CLIA-HBsAg and agglutination assays were also characterized for additional markers of HBV infection.

RESULTS: In 9 of 10 HBV seroconversion panels, PCR had better sensitivity than CLIA-HBsAg at dilutions of 1-in-25 or lower. Of 65 CLIA-only confirmed-positive donor samples (agglutination assay-negative), 8 represented early infection, 2 of which were PCR positive at a 1-in-50 dilution but negative at a 1-in-100 dilution. Only 2 of 47 samples from probable late-stage HBV infection that were positive on CLIA only were PCR positive with 0.1-mL sample volume and the S-region primer; the remaining 45 samples required a 1.0-mL sample input and C-region primer for increased PCR positivity. The remaining 10 CLIA-only confirmed-positive donor samples were from HBV vaccine recipients. None of the 12 CLIA- and HBsAg-negative donor samples that were strongly anti-HBc reactive could be detected by PCR at any dilution; all 12 were PCR positive when undiluted, but 4 required a 1.0-mL input volume for PCR positivity.

CONCLUSION: For the detection of samples representing early-stage HBV infection, PCR at dilutions of 1-in-25 or lower (equivalent to a pool of < or =25 members) had greater sensitivity than CLIA-HBsAg. In contrast, samples from late-stage HBV infection were detected by PCR only with undiluted samples (0.1-mL or 1.0-mL input volumes), regardless of CLIA-HBsAg reactivity. Therefore, although NAT using minipools of 25 donations or less may be effective for the detection of early-stage HBV infection, it may not be effective for the detection of persistent HBV infection.



Type D hepatitis: the clinical significance of hepatitis D virus RNA in serum as detected by a hybridization-based assay.

Smedile A, Rizzetto M, Denniston K, Bonino F, Wells F, Verme G, Consolo F, Hoyer B, Purcell RH, Gerin JL.

Hepatology 1986 Nov-Dec;6(6):1297-302 Abstract quote

Hepatitis D virus is a defective human pathogen that requires hepatitis B virus for its replication. A hybridization-based assay for the 1.75 kb RNA genome of hepatitis D virus was developed using as probe a radiolabeled transcript of a cloned cDNA fragment (pKD3 hepatitis D virus DNA).

Sera from 120 chronic carriers of HBsAg with confirmed hepatitis D virus infection were analyzed for the presence of hepatitis D virus RNA. Serum hepatitis D virus RNA was detected in 43 of 74 (58%) patients with chronic liver disease; some patients were positive for hepatitis D virus RNA in multiple samples over a period of several years. Serum hepatitis D virus RNA was present in 17 of 28 (61%) patients during the acute phase of clinical hepatitis and was not detected after recovery from acute disease or in 18 asymptomatic chronic HBsAg carriers with antibody to hepatitis D virus. The presence of hepatitis D virus RNA correlated with other known markers of active hepatitis D virus replication; all chronic active liver disease patients with serum hepatitis D virus RNA were positive for antihepatitis D antigen IgM, and 34 of 37 (92%) had hepatitis D antigen in their liver biopsy specimens.

The assay for hepatitis D virus RNA provides a direct and noninvasive method for the detection of hepatitis D virus in serum and will be useful in the study of the natural history of type D hepatitis, the identification of chronic hepatitis D virus carriers likely to transmit hepatitis D virus and the selection and monitoring of patients for potential antiviral therapy.

Correlation of IgM anti-hepatitis D virus (HDV) to HDV RNA in sera of chronic HDV.

Govindarajan S, Gupta S, Valinluck B, Redeker AG.

University of Southern California Liver Unit, Downey.

Hepatology 1989 Jul;10(1):34-5 Abstract quote

One hundred forty-four serum samples from 52 patients with chronic hepatitis D virus infection were analyzed for hepatitis D virus RNA by dot-blot hybridization using hepatitis D virus cDNA probe labeled with 32P.

The results were correlated with the presence of serum IgM anti-hepatitis D virus and hepatitis D antigen in liver biopsy specimens when available. Although there was a trend of positive correlation between serum hepatitis D virus RNA and IgM anti-hepatitis D virus, no statistical significance could be found. In the serum samples with hepatitis D virus RNA, 32% were found to be negative for IgM anti-hepatitis D virus.

Therefore, in chronic hepatitis D virus, absence of IgM anti-hepatitis D virus does not rule out active viral infection, as suggested by previous studies. There was a strong correlation between serum hepatitis D virus RNA and hepatic hepatitis D virus antigen. These data indicate that detection of hepatitis D virus RNA in serum samples is a reliable noninvasive marker of active viral infection.

Hepatitis B virus and hepatitis D virus replication in HBsAg-positive fulminant hepatitis.

Mas A, Buti M, Esteban R, Sanchez-Tapias JM, Costa J, Jardi R, Bruguera M, Guardia J, Rodes J.

Liver Unit, Hospital Clinic, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

Hepatology 1990 Jun;11(6):1062-5 Abstract quote

Hepatitis B virus DNA and hepatitis D virus RNA, the most sensitive markers of hepatitis B and hepatitis D virus replication, were sought by molecular hybridization with radioactive probes in serial serum samples from 29 consecutive patients with HBsAg-positive fulminant hepatitis.

Nineteen patients had evidence of hepatitis D virus infection, as assessed by the presence in serum of delta antigen, anti-delta antibodies, or both. Hepatitis B virus DNA was found in only two patients: one was a chronic HBsAg carrier with hepatitis D virus superinfection and the other had fulminant hepatitis caused by hepatitis B and hepatitis D coinfection. Hepatitis D virus RNA was detected in three patients: two with hepatitis B and hepatitis D coinfection and also in the HBsAg carrier with positive hepatitis B virus DNA and hepatitis D virus superinfection. None of 10 patients with hepatitis B virus infection alone had detectable viral nucleic acids in serum.

Overall, viral nucleic acids were detected in the sera of 4 of the 29 patients (14%). Hepatitis D virus antigenemia did not indicate hepatitis D virus replication because hepatitis D virus RNA was not detected in 9 of 12 patients with hepatitis D virus antigen in their sera.

The low frequency of viral replication found in fulminant hepatitis B or D may explain the low recurrence rate of viral hepatitis in patients with fulminant hepatitis who have received liver transplantations.

The natural history of hepatitis D virus infection in Illinois state facilities for the developmentally disabled.

Abiad H, Ramani R, Currie JB, Hershow RC.

Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.

Am J Gastroenterol 2001 Feb;96(2):534-40 Abstract quote

OBJECTIVE: We sought to define the natural history of hepatitis D virus infection in an institutionalized, developmentally disabled population and to identify other prognostic factors.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted on 231 hepatitis B virus carriers, 65 of whom were also infected with hepatitis D virus, at thirteen Illinois state facilities for the developmentally disabled. Demographic, clinical and laboratory data from 1986 to 1998 were obtained by chart review. Cox regression analysis was used to compare those with and without hepatitis D virus infection in terms of overall mortality, mortality from hepatic disease, and risk of developing chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis and to identify other potential prognostic factors.

RESULTS: Residents with hepatitis D virus infection were more likely to die of liver disease than uninfected residents (11% vs 0.6%, respectively; relative hazard, 15.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.8-126.6), although there was no significant difference in overall mortality. Twenty-one percent of residents with hepatitis D virus infection were diagnosed to have cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis compared with 9% of those uninfected (relative hazard 2.5, 95% confidence interval 1.2-5.2). Among the other variables tested, none was predictive of risk of dying of liver disease, and only seropositivity for hepatitis B e antigen was predictive of risk of developing cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis.

CONCLUSIONS: In an institutionalized, developmentally disabled population of hepatitis B virus carriers, hepatitis D virus infection is associated with a greater risk of liver-associated mortality and of developing chronic liver disease than that associated with hepatitis B virus carriage alone.



Chronic hepatitis in patients with active hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus combined infections: a histological study.

Villari D, Pernice M, Spinella S, Squadrito G, Rodino G, Brancatelli S, Longo G, Raimondo G.

Dipartimento di Patologia Umana, Universita di Messina, Italy.

Am J Gastroenterol 1995 Jun;90(6):955-8 Abstract quote

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate whether peculiar histological changes are present in liver tissue of patients with chronic hepatitis by hepatitis B and hepatitis C (HBV and HCV) virus combined infections.

METHODS: We studied liver biopsy specimens from 14 HB surface antigen/anti-HCV-positive patients consecutively admitted to hospital because of chronic liver disease from 1987 to 1992. Alcohol abusers, drug addicts, hepatitis delta virus- and HIV-infected subjects were excluded from the study. All of them were positive for serum HBV-DNA and/or intrahepatic HB core antigen and for serum HCV-RNA. Histological examination showed mild or moderate chronic hepatitis in nine cases and severe chronic hepatitis with cirrhosis in five cases. Two additional sets of liver biopsy specimens were also included in the study, consisting of liver samples from 14 patients with chronic liver disease due to active HBV infection alone (group B) and from 14 patients with active HCV infection alone (group C). Cases from group B and C matched for age, sex, and histological diagnosis with those from group B + C. Histological patterns of all the liver specimens of the three groups were re-examined by two authors who scored the found features using a scale from 0 to 3.

RESULTS: No peculiar histological pattern was revealed in group B + C, and most of the detected microscopic features were similarly present in all three groups. Bile duct lesions and well defined lymphoid follicles were found only in liver samples of patients from groups C and B + C. Ground-glass hepatocytes were observed only in cases from the groups B and B + C.

CONCLUSIONS: Histological examination of liver tissue from patients with chronic HBV and HCV combined infection does not show either typical patterns or evidence that this subgroup of chronic viral hepatitis is a more severe form of liver disease than that caused by a single virus infection. The observation in liver samples of peculiar lesions by HBV or HCV infection does not exclude a combined infection by both viruses.

Histologic recurrence-free outcome after orthotopic liver transplantation for chronic hepatitis B.

Tabatabai ZL, Lewis WD, Gordon FD, Jenkins RL, Khettry U.

Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Int J Surg Pathol 2001 Jan;9(1):19-28 Abstract quote

Recurrent hepatitis B (HB) following orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) for chronic disease is common. However, an unpredictable minority of patients follow a recurrence-free course.

Clinical, virologic, and pathologic data from patients surviving longer than 60 days (n=24) with pathologically confirmed nonrecurrence of HB following OLT for chronic HB were reviewed to identify factors associated with nonrecurrence of HB. Nine of 24 patients had no histologic and immunohistologic evidence of recurrent HB. In addition to pre-OLT hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) negativity, coexisting delta and anti-HB therapy/prophylaxis, other acquired viral infections and their therapy, and severe acute rejection due to noncompliance were considered the possible protective factors against HB recurrence in these 9 patients.

Histologic and, particularly immunopathologic, evaluation of liver biopsies must be utilized in definitively diagnosing recurrence of HB.


A histological study of hepatitis delta virus liver disease.

Verme G, Amoroso P, Lettieri G, Pierri P, David E, Sessa F, Rizzi R, Bonino F, Recchia S, Rizzetto M.

Hepatology 1986 Nov-Dec;6(6):1303-7 Abstract quote

The histopathology of hepatitis delta virus disease was studied in carriers of HBsAg with chronic hepatitis delta antigen-positive hepatitis and in serial biopsies of patients with acute hepatitis delta virus hepatitis that progressed to chronicity.

There was no histologic feature distinctive of hepatitis delta virus from other types of viral hepatitis.

Biopsy specimens of patients with chronic disease exhibited portal and periportal inflammation with piecemeal necrosis, conforming to a picture of aggressive hepatitis often accompanied by cirrhosis. Characteristic was a marked intralobular infiltration by mononuclear cells and a degenerative eosinophilic change of the hepatocytic cytoplasms conducive to the formation of acidophilic bodies. Liver specimens from patients with hepatitis delta virus hepatitis exhibited aspects of focal, confluent and bridging necrosis. The disease progressed to chronicity irrespective of the original histological features.

The expression of intrahepatic hepatitis delta antigen was reduced in the phase of the acute hepatitis but increased in parallel with the development of chronic active liver disease. In late-stage cirrhosis, expression of hepatitis delta antigen was usually low.



Immunohistochemical localization of hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B core antigen in tissue sections. A source of false positive staining.

Goodman ZD, Langloss JM, Bratthauer GL, Ishak K.

Department of Hepatic Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C. 20306.

Am J Clin Pathol 1988 Apr;89(4):533-7 Abstract quote

The occurrence of apparent false positive immunoperoxidase staining for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) led to the evaluation of several commercial antisera for usefulness in the diagnosis of hepatitis B by immunohistochemistry.

One commercial antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) was tested and found to give sensitive and specific staining, with only a few false negatives and no false positives. Of three antibodies to HBsAg, one gave good staining results that were consistent with serologic data; one had many false positive stains due to contaminating antibodies to plasma proteins; and one (a monoclonal antibody) had many false negatives, probably due to its restricted antigenic specificity.

Diagnosticians should be aware of the problems with false positive and false negative immunohistochemical stains. False positives in particular can be a significant problem, causing frequent misdiagnosis of hepatitis B.



Sero-clearance of hepatitis B surface antigen in chronic carriers does not necessarily imply a good prognosis.

Huo TI, Wu JC, Lee PC, Chau GY, Lui WY, Tsay SH, Ting LT, Chang FY, Lee SD.

Department of Medicine, Veterans General Hospital-Taipei and National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Hepatology 1998 Jul;28(1):231-6 Abstract quote

The incidence of delayed hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) clearance in the natural history of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients was low.

Previous studies regarding the prognosis in such patients were controversial. Among 1,355 chronic carriers from 1985 to 1997, spontaneous HBsAg clearance was observed in 55 patients. During a mean follow-up period of 23 months, 18 (32.7%; all were male subjects) developed serious complications, including 11 with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (9 of them underwent surgical resection), 6 with cirrhosis, and 1 with subfulminant liver failure. The overall cumulative probability of complications was 29.8% at 4 years, and it was higher in males (P = .044) and patients aged 45 years or more (P = .006); the latter carried an 8.6-fold increased risk (95% CI: 1.2-64.6; P = .037) of adverse events. Histories of acute or chronic infection by hepatitis A virus, C virus (HCV), or D virus (HDV) were present in 42% of patients. Patients seropositive for antibodies against HCV (anti-HCV) or HDV (anti-HDV) had higher alanine transaminase (ALT) levels (>40 U/L; P = .008) after sero-clearance. HBV DNA was detectable in 31% of 51 subjects, in 20% of 20 with antibodies against HBsAg, in 40% of 20 with anti-HCV or anti-HDV, and also in an HCC patient's serum and tumor. Staining of liver HBsAg was positive in 30% of 10 HCC patients.

In conclusion, our results demonstrated that hepatitis B viremia may persist, and adverse complications were not rare in HBsAg-clearance patients. All such patients should be closely monitored, which may allow for earlier detection of HCC.

Hepatitis B genotypes correlate with clinical outcomes in patients with chronic hepatitis B.

Kao JH, Chen PJ, Lai MY, Chen DS.

Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Taiwan University College of Medicine and National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.

Gastroenterology 2000 Mar;118(3):554-9 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Six genotypes (A-F) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) have been identified; however, the genotype-related differences in the pathogenicity of HBV remain unknown. Therefore, we investigated the prevalence of HBV genotypes in Taiwan and the association between distinct genotypes and severity of liver disease in a cross-sectional study.

METHODS: Using a molecular method, HBV genotypes were determined in 100 asymptomatic carriers and in 170 patients with histologically verified chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

RESULTS: All genotypes except genotype E were identified in Taiwan, and genotypes B and C were predominant. Genotype C was prevalent in patients with cirrhosis and in those with HCC who were older than 50 years compared with age-matched asymptomatic carriers (60% vs. 23%, P < 0.001, and 41% vs. 15%, P = 0.005, respectively). Genotype B was significantly more common in patients with HCC aged less than 50 years compared with age-matched asymptomatic carriers (80% vs. 52%, P = 0.03). This predominance was more marked in younger patients with HCC (90% in those aged

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that HBV genotype C is associated with more severe liver disease and genotype B may be associated with the development of HCC in young Taiwanese. However, additional large-scale longitudinal studies are needed to confirm the relationship of HBV genotypes to liver disease severity and clinical outcomes.

Genotype may correlate with liver carcinogenesis and tumor characteristics in cirrhotic patients infected with hepatitis B virus subtype adw.

Tsubota A, Arase Y, Ren F, Tanaka H, Ikeda K, Kumada H.

Department of Gastroenterology, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.

J Med Virol 2001 Oct;65(2):257-65 Abstract quote

To identify the influence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotype on development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and clinical outcome in chronic HBV infection, 26 consecutive cirrhotic patients infected with HBV subtype adw were investigated prospectively.

HBV serology was undertaken using subtype-specific antibodies against hepatitis B surface antigens. The HBV genotype was determined by sequencing directly the polymerase chain reaction products of the HBV S gene. When HCC occurred, patients underwent transcatheter arterial embolization therapy. If tumor necrosis was incomplete, additional embolization therapy was carried out after a 3- to 4-month interval. At a median follow-up of 14.1 years (range 2.2 to 31.7), HCC occurred in 9 (35%) of 26 patients. Nineteen patients were infected with genotype B and 7 with genotype C. Four of the 19 genotype B patients (21%) and 5 of the 7 genotype C patients (71%) developed HCC (P = 0.058). Patient age (<45 years or 45 < or = ) at diagnosis of cirrhosis was the only significant independent factor influencing liver carcinogenesis by multiple logistic regression analysis and Cox's regression analysis (P = 0.0069 and 0.029, respectively). When analysis was limited to the age of 45 years or more at the last visit, genotype was the only contributory factor to HCC development by univariate analysis (P = 0.038). Whereas genotype B patients responded well to embolization therapy and had no recurrence of HCC for a prolonged period of time, genotype C patients showed poor responses and died of hepatic failure due to rapid HCC progression despite embolization therapy. The cumulative incidence of survival was significantly higher in the genotype B group (P = 0.0049).

The HBV genotype correlated with the development of HCC, response to embolization therapy, and recurrence of HCC. Determination of HBV genotype may be useful in predicting outcomes in HBV subtype adw-related cirrhosis.


The long-term course of chronic hepatitis B.

Di Marco V, Lo Iacono O, Camma C, Vaccaro A, Giunta M, Martorana G, Fuschi P, Almasio PL, Craxi A.

Cattedra di Medicina Interna, Istituto di Clinica Medica I, Universita di Palermo, Italy

Hepatology 1999 Jul;30(1):257-64 Abstract quote

The aim of this study was to assess the long-term outcome in hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients according to HBV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and hepatitis D virus (HDV) replication, focusing on survival, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

A cohort of 302 hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive subjects (mean age, 34 +/- 15.3 years; male/female 214/88; 39 subjects under 14 years) with biopsy-proven chronic hepatitis (86 with cirrhosis) was prospectively assessed, with a median follow-up of 94 +/- 37.6 months.

One hundred nine patients received interferon alfa (IFN). At baseline, 86 subjects (28.5%) were hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive (wild-type HBV), 80 (26.5%) were HBeAg-negative, HBV-DNA-positive, 76 (25.2%) had HDV infection, 43 (14.2%) had dual HBV/HCV infection, and 17 (5.6%) were negative for HBV-DNA, anti-HCV, and anti-HDV. During follow-up, decompensation of disease occurred in 46 subjects: 8 developed HCC, 36 developed ascites, and 2 developed jaundice. Five patients underwent transplantation. Thirty-five subjects died: 33 of hepatic and 2 of nonhepatic causes. Overall mortality was 5.2-fold that of the general population (95% CI: 3.6-7.3; 35 deaths observed, 6.7 expected; P <.0001). By Cox regression analysis, survival was independently predicted by young age, absence of cirrhosis at baseline, and sustained normalization of aminotransferases during follow-up. Survival without decompensation was independently predicted by the same factors and by IFN treatment.

Chronic hepatitis B infection increases mortality in comparison with the general population in our area regardless of specific virological profiles at presentation. Presence of cirrhosis and persistent necroinflammation markedly increase the risk of death.

Natural history of hepatitis B virus infection in children.

Chang MH.

Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei.

J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2000 May;15 Suppl:E16-9 Abstract quote

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection during childhood can cause acute, fulminant or chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

Approximately 90% of the infants of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seropositive mothers become hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers. Children chronically infected are mostly asymptomatic. Although liver damage is usually mild during childhood, severe liver disease, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, may develop insidiously for 2-7 years. Spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion occurs gradually as the age of the child increases. Viral replication is reduced during this process, which is usually preceded by an elevation of aminotransferases. In a long-term follow-up study, the annual HBeAg seroconversion rate was 4-5% in children older than 3 years of age and less than 2% in children under 3 years. The annual seroconversion rate of HBsAg was very low (0.56%).

Age at infection, maternal HBsAg and HBeAg status, host immune status, and possibly the HBV strain are the main factors determining the course of HBV infection in children.

Long-term outcome of chronic hepatitis B in adolescents or young adults in follow-up from childhood.

Fujisawa T, Komatsu H, Inui A, Sogo T, Miyagawa Y, Fujitsuka S, Sekine I, Kosugi T, Inui M.

Department of Pediatrics, National Defense Medical College, Saitama, Tokorozawa City, Japan.

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2000 Feb;30(2):201-6 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND: It has not yet been defined whether children with chronic hepatitis B are likely to develop severe liver disease in the future. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the evolution of chronic hepatitis B acquired in childhood.

METHOD: Fifty-two children in the age range of 0 to 15 years who were positive for hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B e antigen in serum for at least 6 months were enrolled in this study. In the majority of the 52 children, hepatitis B virus infection was acquired by perinatal transmission. All 52 showed abnormal liver function test findings for more than 6 months before enrollment, and the subjects were followed up longitudinally for 3 to 22 years (mean, 11 years). They are now more than 15 years of age (15-27 years old).

RESULTS: During the follow-up period, 26 (50%) children had spontaneous seroconversion to anti-hepatitis B e. Serum levels of alanine aminotransferase normalized in these 26 children. In one child of these children, hepatocellular carcinoma developed at the age of 21 years, 16 years after seroconversion, although his liver function profiles remained normal. The other 26 children remained hepatitis B e antigen positive, most with unchanged biochemical features. Sixteen (62%) children among these 26 children were treated with interferon-alpha. Eleven (69%) children had seroconversion to anti-hepatitis B e within the first year after the cessation of therapy. Hepatocellular carcinoma developed in 1 of these 11 children at the age of 16 years, 6 years after interferon therapy. Thus, hepatocellular carcinoma developed in two children in an anti-hepatitis B e positive phase.

CONCLUSION: All children carrying hepatitis B surface antigen should be observed carefully to monitor the possible development of hepatocellular carcinoma, especially in the antihepatitis B e-positive phase after spontaneous seroconversion or even after interferon treatment.


A multicenter study of lamivudine treatment in 33 patients with hepatitis B after liver transplantation.

Fontana RJ, Hann HW, Wright T, Everson G, Baker A, Schiff ER, Riely C, Anschuetz G, Riker-Hopkins M, Brown N; Lamivudine Compassionate Use Study Group.

Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0362, USA

Liver Transpl 2001 Jun;7(6):504-10 Abstract quote

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection after liver transplantation (LT) may lead to severe and rapidly progressive graft failure. Antiviral treatment may be of benefit in selected patients with recurrent hepatitis B post-LT.

The aim of this prospective open-label study is to determine the safety and efficacy of lamivudine in 33 liver transplant recipients with active HBV infection.

The median time from LT to study enrollment was 51 months, all patients were hepatitis B surface antigen positive, and 75% and 94% of subjects had detectable hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and HBV DNA at entry, respectively. The median duration of lamivudine treatment on study was 85 weeks, during which time median HBV DNA levels became undetectable by 16 weeks and 9% of patients lost previously detectable HBeAg. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels improved in most patients and normalized in 27% of patients with elevated values pretreatment. Serum bilirubin and albumin levels significantly improved in patients with abnormal values at entry (P <.05). Virological breakthrough was detected in 13 subjects after a median of 61 weeks of lamivudine treatment and was confirmed to be caused by YMDD mutants in all patients tested. None of the patients with virological breakthrough showed a complete loss of clinical response to lamivudine. Serum ALT and bilirubin levels in patients with and without virological breakthrough were not significantly different at last study follow-up. Study results show that lamivudine is safe and effective in liver transplant recipients with recurrent hepatitis B. However, the high rate of virological breakthrough with prolonged therapy indicates the need for further studies of combination antiviral therapy in this patient population.

Our results and others further establish the improving long-term outcomes with LT for patients with hepatitis B through advances in prevention of reinfection, as well as the availability of safe and effective antiviral therapies to treat patients with HBV recurrence.

Sequential treatment with lamivudine and interferon monotherapies in patients with chronic hepatitis B not responding to interferon alone: results of a pilot study.

Serfaty L, Thabut D, Zoulim F, Andreani T, Chazouilleres O, Carbonell N, Loria A, Poupon R.

Service d'Hepato-gastroenterologie, Hopital Saint-Antoine, Paris, France.

Hepatology 2001 Sep;34(3):573-7 Abstract quote

Sustained viral suppression using monotherapy with interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) or lamivudine can only be achieved in a small percentage of patients with chronic hepatitis B. The concomitant administration of lamivudine and IFN-alpha does not enhance efficacy. We postulated that the optimal timing of therapy might be sequential treatment with lamivudine and IFN-alpha. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the efficacy of sequential treatment in patients resistant to IFN-alpha alone. Fourteen male patients, with a median age of 40 years, nonresponders to IFN-alpha with hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA > 100 pg/mL (branched DNA [bDNA] Chiron) and positive hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) in 11 of 14 patients, were treated with lamivudine 100 mg/d alone for 20 weeks, then with both IFN-alpha2b 5 MU 3 times per week and lamivudine for 4 weeks, and lastly with IFN-alpha alone for 24 weeks. At the end of lamivudine therapy, all patients had undetectable serum HBV DNA, and none exhibited an emergence of HBV polymerase mutant or breakthrough. Sustained serum HBV-DNA clearance 6 months after the end of sequential treatment was achieved in 8 of 14 patients, HBeAg-to-anti-HBe seroconversion in 5 of 11 patients, and HBeAg and hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroconversions in 3 of 14 patients (anti-HBs > 100 IU/mL). All sustained responders had normalized their alanine transaminase (ALT) values and exhibited histologic improvements. In conclusion, the results of this pilot study suggest that sequential treatment with lamivudine and IFN-alpha can induce a sustained virologic response, including HBs seroconversion, in patients with chronic hepatitis B not responding to IFN-alpha alone, without the selection of drug-resistant mutants. This therapeutic schedule warrants further evaluation in clinical trials.


Interferon alpha treatment and retreatment of hepatitis B e antigen-negative chronic hepatitis B.

Manesis EK, Hadziyannis SJ.

Academic Department of Medicine, Hippokration General Hospital, 114 Vas Sophias Avenue, Athens 115 25, Greece.

Gastroenterology 2001 Jul;121(1):101-9 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: In hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-negative chronic hepatitis B (CHBe-), interferon (IFN) achieves very low biochemical sustained response rates. No information exists on retreatment.

METHODS: Two hundred sixteen CHBe- patients treated for 5 or 12 months with 3 MU IFN-alpha2b thrice weekly and retreated (51 patients, 60 courses) because of no response or relapse were retrospectively analyzed.

RESULTS: After 7.0 years of median follow-up, 39 naive patients (18.1%) were still in biochemical and virologic remission after a single IFN course. Longer treatment and a biochemical response within 4 months were significant predictors, inversely related to relapse by multivariate analysis (relative hazard [RH], 0.611; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.448-0.834 and RH, 0.290; 95% CI, 0.192-0.438, respectively). Retreatment resulted in 18.4% sustained response by intention-to-treat (18 of 98 patients). Patients with sustained response had persistently normal alanine aminotransferase levels, undetectable hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA by molecular hybridization, and significant improvement of histologic grade, and 32% of them lost hepatitis B surface antigen. In sustained responders, serum HBV DNA was undetectable or very low at the end of treatment and at the end of follow-up (median 3934 and 903 copies/mL, respectively) by quantitative polymerase chain reaction.

CONCLUSIONS: IFN induced long-term biochemical and virologic remission in approximately 18% of naive or retreated patients with CHBe-. Sustained responders exhibited significant histologic improvement and a high rate of HBsAg loss.

Long-term follow-up of interferon alfa treatment in Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis B infection: The effect on hepatitis B e antigen seroconversion and the development of cirrhosis-related complications.

Yuen MF, Hui CK, Cheng CC, Wu CH, Lai YP, Lai CL.

Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, China.

Hepatology 2001 Jul;34(1):139-45 Abstract quote

The long-term effect of interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) in Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis B infection is unknown.

A total of 411 chronic hepatitis B patients (208 treated with IFN-alpha and 203 as control) were followed up for hepatitis B serology and the development of hepatoma and other cirrhosis-related complications.

The hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconversion rate in the IFN-alpha-treated group, though significantly greater at 6 and 24 months, was comparable with the control group on subsequent follow-up, irrespective of pretreatment alanine transaminase (ALT) levels. HBeAg seroreversion rate was higher in the IFN-alpha group compared with the control group (21.1% vs. 2.2%; P =.001). Loss of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) occurred in 2.4% of the IFN-alpha-treated patients and 0.49% of the control patients (P = NS). Around 90% of the anti-HBe-positive patients in both groups were still hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA-positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Two patients suffered from hepatic reactivation during the course of treatment. Nine (4.3%) patients in the IFN-alpha group and 2 (1.0%) in the control group developed complications of cirrhosis and hepatoma (P =.062).

In Chinese HBsAg carriers, IFN-alpha was of no long-term benefit in inducing HBeAg seroconversion or in the prevention of hepatoma and other cirrhosis-related complications.


The first five years of universal hepatitis B vaccination in South Africa: evidence for elimination of HBsAg carriage in under 5-year-olds.

Tsebe KV, Burnett RJ, Hlungwani NP, Sibara MM, Venter PA, Mphahlele MJ.

Department of Virology, Medical University of Southern Africa, Pretoria, 0204 Gauteng Province, South Africa.

Vaccine 2001 Jul 16;19(28-29):3919-26 Abstract quote

South Africa implemented a vaccine against hepatitis B virus (HBV) into the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) in April 1995.

The HBV vaccine is given at 6, 10, and 14 weeks, in parallel with OPV, DTP and Hib vaccines. This study assessed the impact of universal childhood HBV vaccination programme in reducing HBsAg carriage, in the first five years (1995--1999) since its implementation. In parallel, we investigated the current burden of HBV infection in mothers of vaccinees and the adult general population. A total of 598 babies (mean age=23.3 months) who received 3 doses of 1.5 microg/0.5 ml Hepaccine-B (Cheil) were recruited from the Northern Province (one of the nine provinces in South Africa). HBsAg, anti-HBs, anti-HBc, HBeAg and anti-HBe were tested using the IMx or Axsym kits (Abbott Laboratories). PCR assays were performed following established protocols. The overall seroprotection rate (i.e. anti-HBs titre> or =10 mIU/ml) was 86.8% (519/598) in vaccinated babies, while 13.2% had anti-HBs levels<10 mIU/ml. Seroprotection rates and geometric mean titres (GMT) decreased significantly with increasing age, possibly reflecting waning anti-HBs titre over time. Total HBV exposure (positive for either HBsAg, anti-HBs, or anti-HBc) was 31.0% (58/187) in mothers of vaccinees and 40% (72/180) in the adult general population. HBsAg carrier rate was virtually similar in both groups (3.2% in mothers of vaccinees vs. 3.3% in the general population). Against this background, no vaccine failures resulting in HBsAg and HBV DNA positivity were seen in vaccinated babies, including 6 babies born to HBsAg positive carrier mothers (one carrier mother was positive for HBeAg and HBV DNA). However, 0.9% (5/582) babies, aged between 8--11 months, tested positive for anti-HBc, all of whom had anti-HBs titres>10 mIU/ml and were negative for HBV DNA. Anti-HBc positivity was probably maternal in origin, or may represent sub-clinical averted HBV infections.

It can be concluded that the HBV vaccine is highly effective within the framework of the South African EPI and already shows a positive impact in the elimination of HBsAg carrier rate in children<5 years.

Prevalence of hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus immunity in patients with polymerase chain reaction-confirmed hepatitis C: implications for vaccination strategy.

Siddiqui F, Mutchnick M, Kinzie J, Peleman R, Naylor P, Ehrinpreis M.

Department of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA.

Am J Gastroenterol 2001 Mar;96(3):858-63 Abstract quote

OBJECTIVES: Administration of vaccine for hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) is recommended for patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) because of the potential for increased severity of acute hepatitis superimposed on existing liver disease. The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of antibodies directed against HAV and HBV in patients with CHC, analyze demographic and risk factors associated with this prevalence, and develop a cost-effective vaccination strategy.

METHODS: We reviewed records from 1092 CHC patients. Demographics and information regarding risk factors were obtained by history and questionnaire administered to all patients. The costs of vaccination and antibody testing were determined, based on standard laboratory and clinic charges at our institution. HAV and HBV markers were correlated to race, age, and risk factors.

RESULTS: Of the total population studied (n = 1092), 72% were African-Americans, 27% white, and 1% others. Of 671 CHC patients tested for anti-HAV IgG, 252 (38%) were positive. Of 743 CHC patients tested for HBV antibodies (anti-hepatitis B core IgG or anti-hepatitis B surface), 494 (67%) were positive. African-Americans are more likely to have antibodies to HAV and HBV (67% and 75%, respectively) compared to whites (27% and 20%). The prevalence of anti-HAV was 76% in patients >60 yr, 34% in the 40- to 60-yr-old age group, and 21% in patients <40 yr. The highest prevalence of HBV antibodies was found in patients between the ages of 40-60 yr. No HCV risk factors were associated with increased HAV risk. In CHC patients with HBV antibodies, however, illicit injection drug use was the predominant risk factor.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of anti-HAV in patients with CHC was found to be similar to that of the general population in the United States (33% according to recent Centers for Disease Control data), consistent with the hypothesis that the two infections do not share risk factors. Because the prevalence of HAV immunity is low in CHC patients <40 yr, empiric HAV vaccination is cost effective. If two doses of vaccine are to be given, however, antibody testing of all HCV patients is indicated. In the subset of patients >60 yr of age or who are African-American, where the prevalence of HAV exposure is considerably higher, it would be cost effective to check the antibody ($36.00), before vaccination ($97.00). The prevalence of HBV antibodies, however, is significantly increased in patients with CHC compared with the general population (5.3% per the Centers for Disease Control), likely as a result of exposure to similar parenteral risk factors. HBV antibody testing ($26.00 per test) should, therefore, be undertaken in all CHC patients who are hepatitis B surface antigen negative, as this approach is cost-effective compared to empiric HBV vaccination ($438.00 for a three injection course).


Clinical course and survival after liver transplantation for hepatitis B virus infection complicated by hepatocellular carcinoma.

Wong PY, McPeake JR, Portmann B, Tan KC, Naoumov NV, Williams R.

Institute of Liver Studies, King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, United Kingdom.

Am J Gastroenterol 1995 Jan;90(1):29-34 Abstract quote

OBJECTIVES AND METHODS: The outcome after liver transplantation for HBsAg-positive liver disease complicated by hepatocellular carcinoma is not clearly defined, and in the present study we analyzed the clinical course in 39 patients transplanted for hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related liver disease (group 1) compared with 16 patients with chronic HBV and hepatocellular carcinoma (group 2) and 52 patients with primary hepatocellular carcinoma seronegative for HBsAg (group 3).

RESULTS: Despite similar pretransplant viral serology, HBV recurred more often in patients with tumor (group 2) than in nontumor cases (group 1), with 1-yr actuarial cumulative reinfection rates of 85.4% versus 65.0%, respectively (p < 0.05). In group 2 cases, we observed a more aggressive pattern of HBV-related graft injury with a higher frequency of graft loss (56.3% vs. 12.8%, p < 0.001). Long-term outcome was worse in the group 2 cases, with 5-yr actuarial survival rates of 16.7% compared with 73.2% and 28.2% for groups 1 and 3, respectively. In group 2, recurrence of HBV in the graft, rather than tumor recurrence, was the principal cause of the high mortality observed (56.2% vs. 12.5%), which, in some cases, may have been potentiated by adjuvant chemotherapy.

CONCLUSION: The poor outcome of patients transplanted for HBsAg-positive cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma is due to HBV reinfection of the graft, rather than tumor recurrence. Antiviral agents in association with hepatitis B immunoglobulin would be the most promising approach to improving survival in this patient population.

Liver transplantation in HBsAg-positive HBV-DNA--negative cirrhotics: immunoprophylaxis and long-term outcome.

Grazi GL, Mazziotti A, Sama C, Jovine E, Stefanini F, Paladini R, Rossi R, Cavallari A.

Second Department of Surgery, University of Bologna, S. Orsola Hospital, Italy.

Liver Transpl Surg 1996 Nov;2(6):418-25 Abstract quote

The presence of a positive hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) has been considered a highly questionable indication for orthotopic liver transplantation.

We report our experience in the treatment of HBsAg-positive HBV-DNA-negative cirrhotics with liver transplantation, whether or not followed by passive prophylaxis with specific immunoglobulins.

Of the 123 cirrhotics who received transplants at our institution since May 1986, 39 (31.7%) were HBsAg positive; of these, 1 was HBV-DNA positive, and 4 were hepatitis Be antigen (HBeAg) positive. Since April 1991, 25 HBsAg-positive HBV-DNA-negative cirrhotics have undergone an original protocol with the periodical intramuscular administration of 5,000 IU of specific immunoglobulins starting in the anhepatic phase and lasting for at least 1 year. There were no differences among cirrhotics in terms of operative mortality and long-term survival with respect to the presence of the HBsAg. Of the 35 HBsAg-positive HBV-DNA-negative patients having a follow-up of 1 month or longer, 12 (34.3%) developed HBsAg recurrence; of them, 4 (33.3%) had received a complete prophylaxis, whereas 8 (66.7%) had not. The recurrence rate was 80% (8 out of 10) in the group of patients who had not received the prophylaxis and 16% (4 out of 25) in the group who had received the prophylaxis (P = .0003). The actuarial recurrence rate in the treated patients was 20.2% and 20.2% after 1 and 3 years, respectively, whereas in the untreated group it was 60.0% and 70.0% (P < .01). The hazard of recurrence of treated patients was reduced to 24.9% compared with untreated patients.

Liver transplantation can be performed in HBsAg-positive HBV DNA negative patients without an increase in the operative risk or a worsening of long-term results. Immunoglobulin prophylaxis seems to be effective in preventing hepatitis recurrence after transplantation.

Liver transplantation in patients with hepatitis B virus infection: outcome in Asian versus white patients.

Teo EK, Han SH, Terrault N, Luketic V, Jensen D, Keeffe EB, Lok AS;

HBV-OLT Study Group. University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Hepatology 2001 Jul;34(1):126-32 Abstract quote

Previous studies have found that Asian patients transplanted for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection had worse outcomes than white patients. The aim of this study was to compare outcomes in Asian and white patients listed for liver transplantation for HBV infection.

Data of all patients with HBV infection listed for liver transplantation between January 1996 and June 1998 from 20 centers in North America were collected using a survey. Total patients enrolled were 325 (171 whites, 126 Asians, 28 other races). There was no difference in demographics, liver biochemistry, and HBV replicative status between Asians and whites at the time of listing. More Asians had hepatocellular carcinoma and fewer Asians had hepatitis C or D virus coinfection. At the time of this survey, 70 Asians (55%) and 99 whites (58%) had been transplanted. Actuarial 2-year survival posttransplantation for Asians (88%) and whites (92%) was similar. Recurrent HBV infection occurred in 8 (11%) Asians and 12 (12%) whites. Five patients with recurrent HBV infection died, 4 of whom were Asian. Actuarial 2-year survival for Asians versus whites with recurrent HBV infection was 60% versus 90% (P =.04).

In this large cohort of patients, overall survival and recurrent HBV infection posttransplantation were comparable between Asians and whites. However, Asians with recurrent HBV infection posttransplantation had significantly higher mortality.

Evidence of serious graft damage induced by de novo hepatitis B virus infection after liver transplantation.

Segovia R, Sanchez-Fueyo A, Rimola A, Grande L, Bruguera M, Costa J, Soguero C, Uriz J.

Liver Unit, Hospital Clinic, Institut D'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi y Sunyer (IDIBAPS), University of Barcelona, Villaroel 170, Barcelona 08036, Spain.

Liver Transpl 2001 Feb;7(2):106-12 Abstract quote

De novo hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is commonly believed to be a relatively benign condition, in contrast to post-OLT infection recurrence, considered a very aggressive complication.

We reviewed the charts of 569 non-HBV-related OLTs performed at our institution and identified 19 patients (3%) with de novo HBV infection (appearance of hepatitis B surface antigen [HBsAg] after OLT).

After a median follow-up of 25 months beyond the detection of HBsAg, 12 patients (63%) had developed serious HBV-related graft damage (cirrhosis in 6 patients, bridging chronic hepatitis in 4 patients, and fulminant hepatitis in 2 patients); 7 patients (37%) had lost their grafts; and 4 patients (21%) had died. All graft losses and deaths were related to de novo HBV infection. Similar rates of severe graft damage (62%), graft loss (38%), and death (33%) related to HBV infection were found in a concomitant series of 21 patients with recurrent HBV infection after OLT. Responses to antiviral therapy (interferon or lamivudine) were also similar in the 2 groups of patients. In 12 patients with de novo HBV infection, evidence of past HBV infection (positive serum antibody to hepatitis B core antigen and/or serum or liver tissue HBV DNA) were detected in the donor (7 patients) or recipient (5 patients). No differences were observed in the clinical course after stratification according to the attributed origin of de novo HBV infection.

We conclude that de novo HBV infection after OLT is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality, similar to those described for post-OLT HBV infection recurrence.

Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease. Sixth Edition. WB Saunders 1999.

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