Abstract: Aim: We sought to evaluate whether serum HBV DNA levels correlates with the liver free HBV DNA levels in chronic hepatitis B.
Methods: Thirty-three consecutive chronic hepatitis B patients with cirrhosis were included in this study. Twenty cases had detectable serum HBV DNA (> 1.8 pg/ml). All had detectable free liver HBV DNA.
Results: There was a strong correlation between the serum and liver HBV DNA levels (P = 0.0018, r = 0.717). Thirteen cases had undetectable serum HBV DNA. Among them, six cases still had detectable liver free HBV DNA. Eight cases were HBeAg-positive. Among them, seven cases were positive for both serum and liver HBV DNA, and one case was negative for both serum and liver HBV DNA. Twenty-five cases were HBeAg-negative and anti-HBe-positive. Among them, 13 cases were positive for serum HBV DNA, and 19 cases were positive for liver HBV DNA. No significant difference was noted for positivity of serum HBV DNA or liver free HBV DNA between HBeAg-positive and HBeAg-negative groups. The level of serum HBV DNA(491 ± 772 pg/ml versus 203 ± 447 pg/ml, p = 0.07) and liver free HBV DNA (33 ± 81 pg/µg versus 6 ± 15 pg/µg, p = 0.13) was also not statistically different.
Conclusion: In conclusion, serum HBV DNA levels is strongly correlated with liver HBV DNA levels in chronic hepatitis B with cirrhosis. Liver free HBV DNA can still be detected in about half of the cirrhotic patients with undetectable serum HBV DNA. Serum HBeAg is not a good predictor of serum or liver HBV DNA levels in cirrhotic patients.