, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 620-624

Clinical significance of concurrent hepatitis B surface antigen and antibody positivity

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Abstract

Over a period of 30 months, 64 patients with concurrently positive hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibody (anti-HB5) were identified at two institutions. When all assays were considered, 23.9% of HBsAg-positive individuals exhibited anti-HBs. Both persistent HBsAg/anti-HBs positivity and variable changes in antigen or antibody status were observed among the 36 patients with follow-up beyond six months. When compared to a control group, these patients did not exhibit differences in risk factors for acquiring hepatitis B or in clinical and histological diagnoses. Concurrent HBsAg and anti-HBs was present at detection in 25 patients, while antibody appeared in the remaining 11 subjects. Subsequently, it was undetectable in seven of these 36 patients; no clinical changes occurred at the time of acquisition or loss of the antibody. The titer of the antibody was below 10 mIU/ml in 75% of these individuals. In 10 patients, the subtype of HBsAg was ad, while the anti-HBs was anti-y. Concurrent HBsAg and anti-HBs is a pattern frequently observed throughout the spectrum of hepatitis B-related events. The heterotypic antibody in these patients is of a low titer, and its appearance or disappearance is not associated with changes in the clinical course; simultaneous HBsAg/anti-HBs positivity does not appear to reflect a distinct clinical entity.

Supported by the Veterans Administration Research Service. This work was presented in part at the meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association, May 1984, and published in abstract form (Gastroenterology 87:1343, 1984).