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Different Mechanisms May Exist for HBsAg Synthesis and Secretion During Various Phases of Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection

Yunsong Li, Qun Cai, Qinxiu Xie, Yafei Zhang, Xiangling Meng, Zhenhua Zhang

(Department of General Surgery, The 1st Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Anhui, Hefei, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:1385-1393

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.902889

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to characterize the expression and secretion of hepatitis B surface-antigen (HBsAg) in the hepatocytes of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients at different phases of infection; as such, the association of intrahepatic HBsAg expression with virological markers and the histological characteristics were analyzed.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: 302 chronic HBV infection patients who had not received antiviral therapy were stratified by HBeAg status. The proportion of HBsAg-positive cells was used as an indicator for HBsAg expression level.
RESULTS: In HBeAg-positive patients, there was a significant correlation between serum HBsAg and serum HBV DNA levels (r=0.569, p<0.001). Intrahepatic HBsAg expression and serum HBsAg level in HBeAg-positive patients were higher than those in HBeAg-negative patients (p=0.002 and p<0.001, respectively). A significant correlation between serum HBsAg level and intrahepatic HBsAg expression was found in HBeAg-negative patients (r=0.377, p<0.001), but not in HBeAg-positive patients (r=0.051, p=0.557). Very interestingly, the correlation between serum HBsAg level and HBsAg expression in hepatocytes gradually increased along with disease progression through the immune-tolerant, immune-clearance, inactive, and recovery phases of HBV infection (r=–0.184, 0.068, 0.492, and 0.575; and p=0,238, 0,722, 0.012, and 0.002, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Different mechanisms may be involved in HBsAg synthesis and secretion in different phases of chronic HBV infection.

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