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J Viral Hepat. 2004 Jul;11(4):358-65.

Occult hepatitis B virus infection in Greek patients with chronic hepatitis C and in patients with diverse nonviral hepatic diseases.

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Research Laboratory of Internal Medicine, Medical School, University of Thessaly Larissa, Thessaly, Greece.


Occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has been reported in patients with chronic hepatitis C who are negative for HBV surface antigen (HBsAg). However, the significance of 'silent' HBV in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is unknown. We investigated 540 subjects for the presence of occult HBV in Greek HCV patients, patients with nonviral liver diseases and healthy donors in an attempt to determine the frequency and importance of this phenomenon. One hundred and eighty-seven anti-HCV(+)/HBsAg(-) patients' sera were investigated for the presence of HBV-DNA by polymerase chain reaction. Two hundred and eighty-two selected blood donors (positive for antibodies to HBV core antigen) and 71 patients with various nonviral hepatic diseases consisted the control groups [both controls were anti-HCV(-)/HBsAg(-)]. HBV-DNA was detected in 26.2% of HCV-infected patients vs 8.5% of patients with nonviral diseases (P = 0.003) and 0/282 of donors (P = 0.0000). HBV-DNA was neither associated with HBV markers, nor with the clinical status of HCV and nonHCV patients. Neither epidemiological, histologic and virologic data nor the response to therapy were associated with the HBV-DNA detection. Hence one quarter of HCV-infected patients had occult HBV infection. Similar findings were not found in both control groups. Occult HBV infection in Greek patients with chronic hepatitis C does not seem to modify the progression of chronic liver disease. Further studies of longer duration are needed in order to clarify the role of 'silent' HBV infection in HCV-infected patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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