Transmission of a homogenous hepatitis B virus population of A1896-containing strains leading to mild resolving acute hepatitis and seroconversion to hepatitis B e antigen antibodies in an adult



The pre-core variant, A1896, which switches off hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) production, is common in hepatitis B e antigen antibody (anti-HBe)-positive chronic hepatitis patients. It has been observed in occasional case reports of acute hepatitis. However, transmission in the absence of HBeAg-producing strains, leading to acute nonfulminant hepatitis and clearance in adults, has not been reported. Here, we show that this event can occur, further confirming that A1896 strains are “wild-type” and can lead to all the same outcomes as G1896 strains. This is in keeping with phylogenetic evidence that A1896 is transmitted independently on a large scale in the population and explains anti-HBe-positive persons who have not had an HBeAg-positive phase documented.