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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-15

Spectrum of hepatitis B infection in Southern India: A cross-sectional analysis

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stanley Medical College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Sivasubramaniam Balasubramanian
No. 1, Old Jail Road, Stanley Medical College Hospital, Royapuram, Chennai - 600 001, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-9747.193288

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Background and Aim: Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related liver disease is not an uncommon problem in India. There are very few reports on pattern of chronic HBV infection from South India. The aim of the present study was to determine the spectrum of chronic HBV infection among patients attending the liver clinic in a tertiary referral center. Materials and Methods: Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive patients registered in the liver clinic between July 2010 and March 2011 were included in the study. All patients had baseline liver function tests, serological markers for HBV infection (hepatitis B e antigen [HBeAg], anti-HBe, anti-HBc total, and anti-HBc IgG, and HBV DNA quantification), serum alpha-fetoprotein, and ultrasound. Based on the viral profile and transaminase levels and ultrasound findings, patients were categorized as immunotolerant, inactive carriers, immune clearance and reactivation phase, and chronic liver disease with or without hepatocellular carcinoma. Results: Majority of the patients were asymptomatic and incidentally detected during blood donation camps, master health checkup (MHC), or during initial screening. Almost 40% of patients were either in immune inactive phase or had features of chronic liver disease. In the immunotolerant phase (24 patients), women were a decade younger than their male counterparts. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were similar in both HBeAg-positive and negative patients. The mean HBV DNA values were significantly high in HBeAg-positive men and women. In the immune inactive phase (58 patients), there were only three patients who were HBeAg positive. The ALT levels were in the normal range. HBV DNA values were low or not detectable. Among patients with elevated ALT and HBV DNA levels (immune clearance/immune reactive) (fifty patients), the mean ALT levels were higher in HBeAg-negative patients. HBV DNA quantity was significantly high in patients who were HBeAg positive. Conclusion: A significant proportion of HBsAg-positive patients is in inactive or in immunotolerant phase and do not require treatment. Patients with elevated ALT and HBV DNA levels need further evaluation to categorize them into immune clearance or immune reactive phase.

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