Clinical importance of serum hepatitis B surface antigen levels in chronic hepatitis B


Makoto Arai, MD, Department of Medicine and Clinical Oncology (K1), Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Inohana 1-8-1, Chiba-City, 260-8670, Japan. E-mail:


Summary.  Quantitative serology for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is a new candidate marker for prediction of clinical outcome. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical significance of quantifying HBsAg in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. A total of 424 patients who tested positive for HBsAg and were referred to Chiba University Hospital between January 1985 and April 2008 were included in the study, and the following characteristics were analyzed: age, gender, status of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg), alanine aminotransferase level (ALT), HBV DNA level, number of platelets and development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Measurement of HBsAg was performed using the chemiluminescent enzyme immunoassay method. The study group consisted of 239 men and 185 women, and their average age was 40.6 ± 14.0 years. HBsAg showed a positive correlation with HBV DNA level (Pearson’s product moment correlation, r = 0.586, < 0.001) and a weak inverse correlation with age (r = 0.3325, < 0.001). A control study, matched with age and sex, was performed between two groups with and without HBeAg seroconversion during follow-up period. Compared with the age and sex-matched controls, the change in HBsAg levels per year showed a significant decrease 2 years before seroconversion (paired t-test, P < 0.05). The serial measurement of quantitative HBsAg level has the possibility of predicting the occurrence of HBeAg seroconversion.