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Antivir Ther. 2008;13(2):307-18.

Virological pattern in plasma, peripheral blood mononuclear cells and liver tissue and clinical outcome in chronic hepatitis B and C virus coinfection.

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Department of Public Medicine, Second University of Naples, Italy.



We aim to evaluate in chronic hepatitis B virus-hepatitis C virus (HBV-HCV) coinfection the interplay of these viruses in liver tissue, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), and plasma and to analyze the effect on disease course and response to treatment.


We enrolled 19 patients with chronic HBV-HCV coinfection, 20 with chronic HCV and 20 with chronic HBV infection at their first liver biopsy, all were naive for antiviral therapy. The patients' plasma, PBMC and liver biopsy samples were tested for HBV DNA and/or HCV RNA by real-time PCR, according to the presence/absence of hepatitis B surface antigen and antibodies against HCV in the serum.


Contemporary presence of HBV DNA and HCV RNA was rare in plasma (5.3% of cases) and PBMC (10.6%), but frequent in liver tissue (52.6%). Of 10 cases circulating only HCV RNA and treated with pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin for 12 months, two showed a sustained response, and eight cleared HCV RNA but became HBV-DNA-positive in plasma; these eight had detectable HBV DNA in liver at baseline. One patient, who was plasma HBV-DNA-positive/HCV-RNA-negative at baseline, showed a sustained response after 18 months of PEG-IFN treatment; another, who was plasma HBV-DNA/HCV-RNA-positive at baseline, cleared only HCV RNA during 12 months of PEG-IFN plus ribavirin treatment. Seven cases remained untreated.


Despite a reciprocal inhibition in plasma, HBV and HCV frequently coexist in liver tissue, a condition to be taken into consideration when deciding therapy.

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