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Patients with Coexistence of Circulating Hepatitis B Surface Antigen and Its Antibody May Have a Strong Predisposition to Virus Reactivation During Immunosuppressive Therapy: A Hypothesis

Yu-Lan Chen, Ying-Qian Mo, Dong-Hui Zheng, Jian-Da Ma, Jun Jing, Lie Dai

Department of Rheumatology, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:5980-5985

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.905033

Available online:

Published: 2017-12-17


ABSTRACT: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation is a well-recognized complication in patients who undergo immunosuppressive drug therapy. Although the recommendation of antiviral prophylaxis made by the American Gastroenterological Association in 2015 focuses on the risk stratification of different immunosuppressive drugs, risk factors for HBV reactivation are also worth identifying in clinical practice. Recent studies have shown that the uncommon serological pattern of coexistent circulating HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) and its antibody (anti-HBs) was associated with double mutations (A1762T/G1764A) in the basal core promoter (BCP) region of the HBV genome, which is critical for HBV replication. Here, we depicted rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with coexistent HBsAg and anti-HBs in our medical center, who developed HBV reactivation during immunosuppressive drug therapy. DNA sequencing analysis of the HBV genome revealed triple mutations (A1762T, G1764A, and T1753V) in the BCP region, which could further enhance the ability of HBV replication. Hence, a novel hypothesis is advanced for the first time that patients with coexistent HBsAg and anti-HBs may have a strong predisposition to HBV reactivation due to specific BCP mutations. This hypothesis would, if correct, justify the concurrent detection of HBsAg and anti-HBs in HBV screening in patients with rheumatic diseases and quickly recognize patients with high risk of HBV reactivation. Further controlled studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

Keywords: Hepatitis B Antibodies, Hepatitis B Antigens, Hepatitis B virus, Mutation



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