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Nuclear HBcAg and histology activity index as independent predictors of the expression of singly spliced HBV-RNA


Dr Chau-Ting Yeh, Liver Research Unit, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 199 Tung Hwa North Road, Taipei 105, Taiwan. E-mail:


Summary.  Although hepatitis B virus (HBV) RNA splicing has been reported by many researchers, the clinical significance of this event remains illusive. The present study was designed to investigate the clinical roles of singly spliced HBV-RNA. Liver biopsy tissues obtained from 32 consecutive patients were subjected to reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction for the detection of singly spliced and unspliced HBV-RNA. Stepwise linear regression model was used to estimate the ratio of singly spliced to unspliced (S/US) HBV-RNA in the presence of the following variables: age, gender, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, total bilirubin, alpha-foetoprotein, status of HBV e antigen (HBeAg), status of antibody to HBeAg, HBV-DNA, histology activity index (HAI), fibrotic score, grade of cytoplasmic HBV core antigen (HBcAg), grade of nuclear HBcAg, genotype, status of precore-stop-mutation, basal core promoter mutation, previous lamivudine therapy and superinfection by other hepatitis viruses. The results showed that HAI (β = −0.2616; P = 0.011) and grade of nuclear HBcAg expression (β = 0.5599; P =0.0067) were two independent predictors for the expression of singly spliced HBV-RNA. Further categorical analysis showed that patients with HAI score ≤6 and grading of nuclear HBcAg ≥2 have significantly higher S/US ratios. In conclusion, nuclear HBcAg and HAI are two independent predictors for the expression of singly spliced HBV-RNA.