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Seroconversion from Hepatitis B e Antigen to Antibody in Chronic Type B Hepatitis

JAY H. HOOFNAGLE, M.D.; GEOFFREY M. DUSHEIKO, M.D.; LEONARD B. SEEFF, M.D.; E. ANTHONY JONES, M.D.; JEANNE G. WAGGONER; and Z. BUSKELL BALES
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Jay H. Hoofnagle, M.D.; Liver Unit, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 4D-52; Bethesda; MD 20205.


Bethesda, Maryland; and Washington, D.C.


Ann Intern Med. 1981;94(6):744-748. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-94-6-744
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Twenty-five patients with chronic type B hepatitis documented by liver biopsy were followed for 1 to 6 years with serial measurements of aminotransferase levels, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and antibody (anti-HBe), and hepatitis B virus DNA polymerase. Initially, all were positive for HBsAg and HBeAg and had elevations in serum aminotransferases. In follow-up, only one lost HBsAg reactivity. In 13, however, elevated aminotransferase levels spontaneously fell to normal and have remained normal. These 13 also had a seroconversion from HBeAg to anti-HBe, and all became negative for serum DNA polymerase. Most had a fall in HBsAg titer. This seroconversion occurred concurrently with or several months before the fall in aminotransferase levels. In contrast, the 12 persons who remained HBeAg positive continued to have elevated aminotransferase levels. All 10 of these patients who were initially positive for DNA polymerase remained positive. These data suggest that many patients with chronic type B hepatitis eventually have a spontaneous remission in clinical and biochemical evidence of active disease, usually heralded or accompanied by the disappearance of HBeAg and DNA polymerase.

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