Occult hepatitis B virus infection in HBs antigen-negative hepatocellular carcinoma in a Japanese population: involvement of HBx and p53.J Med Virol 2000; 62(2):151-8JM
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome was reported to be detected in serum or liver tissues in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients negative for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). Hepatitis B x (HBx) and p53 protein were reported to play an important role in HBV-related hepatocarcinogenesis. To clarify latent HBV infection in HBsAg- and anti-hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV)-negative HCC in a Japanese population and involvement of HBx and p53 protein in these patients, we performed the sensitive and specific nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunohistochemical analysis. Of 1,024 HCC patients we saw between 1974 and 1998, 66 (6.4%) were negative for HBsAg and anti-HCV. Serum DNA was amplified by nested PCR by using specific primers of surface (S), core (C) and X regions in 26 patients negative for HBsAg and anti-HCV. Eighteen (69%) patients were positive for either S, C, or X region and the results of PCR were confirmed by Southern blotting. Of 18 PCR-positive patients, 3 were positive for anti-HBs and 9 were positive for anti-HBc, however, one was negative for any HBV markers. In HBsAg-negative and PCR-positive patients, the positive rates of expression of HBx and p53 were 8/13 (62%) and 7/13 (54%), being comparable to those in HBsAg-positive HCC patients. The results of the present study suggest that high prevalence of HBV infection is observed in HBsAg-negative HCC in a Japanese population and expression of HBx and p53 is consistent with a role, in these patients, for the transforming ability of these proteins.