The intrahepatic expression of the hepatitis B virus in chronic delta hepatitis.

F Ramalho, J Velosa, A Costa, A Baptista, M C de Moura


In order to evaluate the interference of hepatitis delta virus (HDV) in hepatitis B viral particle (HBsAg, HBcAg) expression in the liver of chronic HDV patients, 39 and 81 liver biopsies of HBsAg carriers seropositive for anti-HDV and anti-HDV negative controls, respectively, were studied. HBcAg was positive in 16.7% of the HBeAg-positive patients with HDAg in the liver and in 91,4% of controls. In contrast, in HBeAg- and anti-HDV negative patients the intrahepatic expression of HBcAg was detected in 32.6%. In anti-HDV negative patients the HBcAg liver expression correlated significantly with the HBeAg in serum (p < 0.00001). The distribution of HBcAg was exclusively cytoplasmatic in 30% of HDV-infected patients but mixed nuclear and cytoplasmic in 38.3% of the controls. The nuclear expression of HBcAg was decreased in chronic HDV infection. HBsAg was positive in 70.3% of patients who were anti-HDV positive and in 82.3% of controls. The membranous expression of HBsAg was detected less frequently in HDV-infected patients (p < 0.05) than in controls, while associated with HBeAg in serum of HBV carriers without HDV superinfection (p < 0.00001). The prevalence and the HBsAg cytoplasmic expression was not different for the chronic HDV infection or controls. Our results show: 1) decreased intrahepatic expression of HBcAg and membranous HBsAg in HBV carriers superinfected with HDV, suggesting decreased HBV replication in the liver of these patients. 2) the changing of HBcAg and HBsAg expression in the liver of HDV-infected patients, suggest not so much a decrease but rather a modulation in HBV replication.

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