Taiwanese have a high prevalence of HBsAg carrier rate and chronic liver diseases. To evaluate the role of delta (δ) agent infection in our patients, 45 HBsAg-positive patients with chronic active hepatitis, 4 with chronic persistent hepatitis and 11 with HBsAg-positive hepatocellular carcinoma were studied for δ antibody by radioimmunoassay of serum; liver was studied for δ antigen by immunofluorescence in 23 patients. δ Antibody was only found in three patients with chronic active hepatitis (6.7%); the prevalence was 5% in HBsAg-positive chronic liver diseases and hepatocellular carcinoma. None of the liver specimens studied had δ antigen. The study indicates that δ agent infection does not seem to play an important role in chronic liver diseases and hepatocarcinoma in Chinese who live in Taiwan, despite a high prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus infection.
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