Prevalence of low-level hepatitis B viremia in patients with HBV surface antigen-negative hepatocellular carcinoma with and without hepatitis C virus infection in Japan: analysis by COBAS TaqMan real-time PCR.Intervirology 2007; 50(4):241-4I
The effect of circulating low-level hepatitis B virus (HBV), defined as one of the states of 'occult HBV infection', on the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in HBV surface antigen (HBsAg)-negative patients is controversial. In addition, the prevalence of occult HBV infection strongly depends on the sensitivity of the HBV detection method. We investigated the prevalence of low-level HBV in the serum of HBsAg-negative patients with HCC using a newly developed, sensitive method based on real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Serum was examined for HBV DNA in 132 patients with HBsAg-negative HCC (95 with hepatitis C virus [HCV] infection and 37 without detectable hepatitis virus infection) with the COBAS TaqMan HBV test, of which the 95% hit rate is 35 copies/ml (6.7 IU/ml).
Low-level HBV DNA was detected in 2 of 95 (2.1%) patients with HCV-related HCC and 1 of 37 (2.7%) patients with non-viral HCC.
The prevalence of the detection of circulating low-level HBV was low in both HBsAg-negative HCC patients with HCV infection and those without detectable hepatitis virus, even with the use of the most sensitive method for the detection of HBV. Circulating low-level HBV does not appear to play an important role in hepatocarcinogenesis in HBsAg-negative HCC.