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Abstract

The objective was to determine the proportion of patients with chronic hepatitis B in whom hepatitis B virus DNA is demonstrated by polymerase chain reaction after HBeAg to anti-HBe or HBsAg to anti-HBs spontaneous or therapeutically induced seroconversion.

Polymerase chain reaction was performed on serum 6 and 12 mo after HBeAg to anti-HBe seroconversion in 12 patients and 2, 6 and 12 mo after HBsAg to anti-HBs seroconversion in 13 patients. Polymerase chain reaction was performed on liver tissue after HBeAg to anti-HBe seroconversion in five patients and after HBsAg to anti-HBs seroconversion in one patient.

Serum HBV DNA was demonstrated by polymerase chain reaction in 83% of patients 6 or 12 mo after HBeAg to anti-HBe seroconversion and in 58%, 31% and 15% of patients at 2, 6 and 12 mo, respectively, after HEsAg to anti-HBs seroconversion. Liver HBV DNA was demonstrated by polymerase chain reaction in all patients tested.

Our results show that (a) a reduced level of hepatitis B virus replication persists in most of the patients after HBeAg to anti-HBe seroconversion and might be predictive of reactivation, and (b) in contrast, hepatitis B virus replication progressively disappears in most of the patients after HBsAg to anti-HBs seroconversion. (HEPATOLOGY 1992;15:32–36).