Chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus in Bangladesh: a comparative analysis of HBV-DNA, HBeAg/anti-HBe, and liver function tests.Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2002 Mar; 33(1):110-7.SA
Serological markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV), liver function tests and quantitative estimation of HBV-DNA are important in the assessment of the state of infection and prognosis following treatment for hepatitis B. This study aimed to determine whether low-cost assays, eg hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and liver function tests, could be used for the assessment of infectivity as an alternative to HBV-DNA estimation. We tested 125 hepatitis B carriers for HBeAg, antibody to HBeAg (anti-HBe), and serum HBV-DNA; we also carried out a range of standard liver function tests. Seventy-three subjects were positive and 52 were negative for HBeAg. Of the HBeAg positive cases, 3 were also positive for anti-HBe; of the HBeAg negative cases, 5 were also negative for anti-HBe. Of these 8 cases, 7 had no detectable HBV-DNA. Most of the HBeAg positive but anti-HBe negative subjects were positive for HBV-DNA (74.3%; 52/ 70) whereas most of the HBeAg negative and anti-HBe positive subjects (93.6%; 44/47) were also negative for HBV-DNA. Of 56 HBV-DNA positive individuals, alanine transaminase (ALT) was found to be raised in 69.6% (p=0.066) and aspartate transaminase (AST) was raised in 66.1% (p=0.011), while 67.9% had normal alkaline phosphatase (ALP) (p=0.054). HBeAg (p=0.018) and raised ALT (p=0.008) were found to be independent predictors for HBV-DNA positivity among HBV carriers. This study suggests that HBeAg positive and anti-HBe negative hepatitis B carriers with raised ALT and AST are likely to be positive for HBV-DNA; the combination of routine serology and biochemical tests may be considered as an alternative to HBV-DNA in evaluating the state of chronic HBV infection. However, HBV-DNA should be specifically assessed if discordance is observed between seromarkers and transaminases.