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J Med Virol. 1999 Aug;58(4):325-31.

Quantitative DNA analysis of low-level hepatitis B viremia in two patients with serologically negative chronic hepatitis B.

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Second Department of Internal Medicine, Yamagata University School of Medicine, Japan.


Low-level viremia due to hepatitis B virus (HBV) was demonstrated in the sera of two patients diagnosed previously as having non-B, non-C chronic hepatitis. Both patients had a "silent" HBV infection, because they were negative for both hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and anti-hepatitis B core antibody. The TaqMan chemistry polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified the HBV DNA, enabling quantitation of the virus in their sera. Their serum HBV DNA concentrations were low: the amount of each HBV S or X gene amplified showed there were approximately 10(3) copies/ml and HBV DNA was detected occasionally during clinical follow-up. Positive HBsAg staining in liver tissues was demonstrated by an immunoperoxidase technique. Vertical transmission of silent HBV from one patient to her daughter was confirmed. Direct nucleotide sequencing of the amplified HBV X region revealed several mutations, suggesting reduced viral replication. One patient had a T-to-C mutation at the extreme 5'-terminus of the direct repeat 2 region and the other exhibited a coexisting X region with a 155-nucleotide deletion. These findings suggest that HBV replication is suppressed considerably in patients with silent hepatitis B.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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