• hepatitis B virus;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • hepatitis D virus coinfection;
  • real time PCR


The kinetics of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and its surface antigen (HBsAg) during acute hepatitis has not yet been studied accurately in a representative number of patients. The influence of coinfecting hepatitis viruses during the acute phase of infection is not known. Three to four serum samples from 21 patients with acute HBV monoinfection and 27 with coinfection were taken at intervals of 6–10 days and analyzed for the number of HBV genome equivalents (ge) by real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and for HBsAg quantity using Laurell electrophoresis. Log HBV ge/ml decreased during the follow-up from 6.8 ± 1.1 to 5.1 ± 1.0 to 4.2 ± 0.8 to 3.3 ± 1.1 (mean ± SD). The half-life times of HBV ge increased from 1.6 days at the beginning to 4 days at the end. HBsAg decreased much slower: from 38 to 23 to 12 to3.8 μg/ml. Half-life time was around 8 days at the beginning and 5.7 days at the end, but 11 patients showed a rapid elimination of HBsAg and HBV DNA. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) coinfection did not change the kinetics of HBV ge and HBsAg significantly. A moderate but significant suppression of HBV ge levels was observed in hepatitis D virus (HDV) coinfected patients. HBsAg levels were, however, enhanced in this cohort. In conclusion, the data suggest that expression and elimination of HBV is in most patients with acute hepatitis B not altered by coinfecting hepatitis viruses. The initial decrease of HBV ge and HBsAg in serum appears to be caused by decay or non-specific removal in the absence of replacement. J. Med. Virol. 69:313–323, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.