Source Institute for Digestive Research, Digestive Disease Center, Department of Gastroenterology, Soon Chun Hyang University Seoul Hospital, Soon Chun Hyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: We investigated the frequency of occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive individuals and the effects of occult HBV infection on the severity of liver disease.
METHODS: Seventy-one hepatitis B virus surface-antigen (HBsAg)-negative patients were divided according to their HBV serological status into groups A (anti-HBc positive, anti-HBs negative; n=18), B (anti-HBc positive, anti-HBs positive; n=34), and C (anti-HBc negative, anti-HBs positive/negative; n=19), and by anti-HCV positivity (anti-HCV positive; n=32 vs. anti-HCV negative; n=39). Liver biopsy samples were taken, and HBV DNA was quantified by real-time PCR.
RESULTS: Intrahepatic HBV DNA was detected in 32.4% (23/71) of the entire cohort, and HBV DNA levels were invariably low in the different groups. Occult HBV infection was detected more frequently in the anti-HBc-positive patients. Intrahepatic HBV DNA was detected in 28.1% (9/32) of the anti-HCV-positive and 35.9% (14/39) of the anti-HCV-negative subjects. The HCV genotype did not affect the detection rate of intrahepatic HBV DNA. In anti-HCV-positive cases, occult HBV infection did not affect liver disease severity.
CONCLUSIONS: Low levels of intrahepatic HBV DNA were detected frequently in both HBsAg-negative and anti-HCV-positive cases. However, the frequency of occult HBV infection was not affected by the presence of hepatitis C, and occult HBV infection did not have a significant effect on the disease severity of hepatitis C.