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Assessment Found Useful in Inactive Hep B Carriers

Measurement of HBsAg and HBV-DNA provides accurate identification of inactive hep B carriers

FRIDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Assessment of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA and hepatitis B surface antigen provides identification of inactive carriers of hepatitis B with high diagnostic accuracy, according to research published in the August issue of Gastroenterology.

Maurizia Rossana Brunetto, M.D., of the University Hospital of Pisa in Italy, and colleagues analyzed data from 209 untreated asymptomatic adult carriers of hepatitis B e antigen-negative genotype D. Hepatitis B surface antigen serum levels (HBsAgsl) were measured at baseline and after a median 34.5 months of follow-up.

The researchers found that HBsAgsl were significantly lower in inactive carriers compared to active carriers (median 62.12 versus 3,029). In active carriers, HBsAgsl were lower in those whose HBV-DNA remained persistently below 20,000 IU/mL compared to those with fluctuations to or above 20,000. A combined single-point quantification of HBsAg below 1,000 and HBV-DNA of 2,000 or less identified inactive carriers with 94.3 percent diagnostic accuracy, 87.9 percent positive predictive value, and 96.7 percent negative predictive value.

"HBsAg titering may be a useful tool to manage persons with chronic HBV, more clearly defining who may, and more important, who may not, benefit from treatment and possibly even decrease the need for liver biopsy in those with mildly elevated alanine aminotransferase levels who concurrently have low HBsAg titers and HBV-DNA levels," writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

Brunetto disclosed a relationship with Abbott Laboratories, which provided immunoassays for the study.

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