Recently, hepatitis B core-related antigen (HBcrAg) has been suggested as an additional marker of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. This study aimed to investigate whether serum quantitative HBcrAg (qHBcrAg) was a satisfactory surrogate marker of intrahepatic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). A total of 139 patients with liver biopsy were enrolled, consisting of 59 patients in immune tolerance (IT) phase, 52 patients in immune clearance (IC) phase, 18 patients in low-replication (LR) phase, and 10 patients in reactivation phase. All patients in IC phase have received entecavir (ETV) therapy, and 32 of them undergone a second liver biopsy at 24 months. Among those patients, qHBcrAg was strongly correlated with intrahepatic cccDNA, which is superior to that of qHBsAg and HBV DNA. And similar findings were also observed in patients in IT, IC, LR and reactivation phases. Among the 32 ETV-treated patients with a second liver biopsy in IC phase, the decline of intrahepatic cccDNA was accompanied by changes in both qHBcrAg and qHBsAg. However, as compared to qHBsAg, the change of qHBcrAg was more strongly associated with intrahepatic cccDNA-decline. In summary, serum qHBcrAg should be a satisfactory surrogate of intrahepatic HBV cccDNA in CHB patients.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 14, 2017
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