Hepatitis B virus RNA is measurable in serum and can be a new marker for monitoring lamivudine therapy
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- Rokuhara, A., Matsumoto, A., Tanaka, E. et al. J Gastroenterol (2006) 41: 785. doi:10.1007/s00535-006-1856-4
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Changes in the serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) RNA level during lamivudine therapy were compared to those in the serum HBV DNA and HBV core-related antigen (HBVcrAg) levels in 24 patients with chronic hepatitis B.
For measurement of HBV RNA, total nucleic acid was extracted from serum samples and treated with RNase-free DNase I. After cDNA synthesis from extracted RNA, HBV RNA was measured by real-time detection polymerase chain reaction.
The peak fraction of HBV RNA in serum samples was consistent with peak fractions of HBV DNA and HBV core protein in a sucrose gradient analysis, indicating that HBV RNA was incorporated into virus particles. All levels of HBV DNA, HBV RNA, and HBVcrAg decreased gradually during lamivudine therapy (P < 0.001 for all). The amount of decrease from the start of lamivudine therapy was significantly higher for HBV DNA than for HBV RNA or HBVcrAg during 6 months of lamivudine therapy (P < 0.001 for all). However, a similar difference was not seen between HBV RNA and HBVcrAg levels during that period. The HBV RNA level was significantly correlated (P < 0.001 for all) with levels of HBV DNA and HBVcrAg both at the beginning and 2 months after the start of lamivudine therapy.
HBV RNA is detectable in serum in a form indicating incorporation into virus particles, and its serum level might serve as a new viral marker with a significance different from that of HBV DNA in lamivudine therapy.