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Intervirology. 2008;51(5):352-61. doi: 10.1159/000187720. Epub 2009 Jan 7.

Influence of occult hepatitis B virus coinfection on the incidence of fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic hepatitis C.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Nihon University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


We examined prospectively the influence of occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection on the histopathological features and clinical outcome of HCV RNA-positive chronic hepatitis (CH-C) and detected hepatitis B core (HBc) particles in hepatocytes. The subjects were 468 patients with CH-C or liver cirrhosis (LC) who were negative for serum hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. HBV DNA was detected in serum by nested PCR. HBsAg and HBc antigen (HBcAg) in liver were investigated using immunohistochemical techniques and light (LM) and electron microscopy (EM). Serum HBV DNA was detected in 43.6% of the patients studied. There were no significant differences between HBV DNA-positive and DNA-negative patients in terms of their clinical profiles. For HBV DNA-positive patients, the degree of inflammatory cell infiltration and irregular regeneration of hepatocytes was significantly greater than for HBV DNA-negative patients. The cumulative probability of development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was significantly higher for HBV DNA-positive patients than for HBV DNA-negative patients. HBV DNA positivity was a risk factor for the occurrence of HCC according to multivariate analysis. HBsAg and HBcAg were detected in 8.5 and 72.3%, respectively, of the livers of serum HBV DNA-positive individuals. Core particles were detected in the nuclei of the hepatocytes by IEM. The histopathological features and long-term outcome of CH-C or LC could be affected by occult HBV infection.

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