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21 March 2017 : Clinical Research

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

Yunsong Li1BCE, Qun Cai2BCE, Qinxiu Xie2B, Yafei Zhang2BC, Xiangling Meng1DEF, Zhenhua Zhang2ADG*

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.902889

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:1385-1393

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Hepatitis B Antigens, Hepatitis B virus, Protein Biosynthesis, Secretory pathway

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