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Clin Exp Immunol. 1979 Aug;37(2):376-80.

Antigen-specific detection of HBsAG-containing immune complexes in the course of hepatitis B virus infection.


In recent studies extrahepatic manifestations of viral hepatitis have been recognized as immune complex diseases. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) has been successfully identified in immune complexes, but the pathogenic role of HBsAg-containing immune complexes (IC) remains questionable. The subject of the present study was the antigen-specific determination of IC in the course of hepatitis B virus infection using a new HBsAg-specific IC test (Pernice & Sedlacek, 1978). This test is based on the following principle: rabbit anti-HBs-coated polystyrole test tubes are incubated with the IC-containing test sample. The HBsAg-containing IC bind to the solid phase by their free antigenic determinants. There they can be quantified using a peroxidase-labelled anti-human IgG antibody. A good correlation was found between the level of HBsAg-containing immune complexes and the clinical state of six patients in a follow-up study. IC could be detected simultaneously with HBsAg and either decreased or disappeared before the occurrence of free anti-HBs. In the sera of an additional twenty-eight patient suffering from chronic active hepatitis, HBsAg-containing immune complexes were detected in 85% of cases. One patient suffering from polyarteritis nodosa was also positive. Occasionally, extremely high levels of IC were found in the course of these diseases.

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