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Keywords:

  • acute hepatitis;
  • chronic hepatitis;
  • genotype;
  • hepatitis B virus;
  • microparticle enzyme immunoassay

Abstract

Background:  The cut-off index value of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc; AxSYM CORE-M, Abbott) for diagnosing acute hepatitis B is 1.2. A high false-positive rate of IgM anti-HBc was observed in acute flare-ups of chronic hepatitis B in Taiwanese patients. Thus the purpose of the present paper was to study the optimal index value of IgM anti-HBc in Taiwanese subjects.

Methods:  The peak index values of 42 IgM anti-HBc-positive patients were collected. There were 20 acute hepatitis B patients and 22 patients with chronic hepatitis B with acute flare. The biochemical, virological, and serological data were obtained.

Results:  There were significant differences in mean age (36 vs 47 years, P = 0.01), serum alanine aminotransferase level (2042 U/L vs 1193 U/L, P = 0.02) and peak index value of IgM anti-HBc (2.9 vs 1.5, P < 0.01) between patients with acute hepatitis B and those with acute flare of chronic hepatitis B. Eleven (50%) of 22 patients with chronic hepatitis B with acute flare had index value of >1.2. The optimal cut-off index value to differentiate acute hepatitis B from chronic hepatitis B with acute flare was 2.4–2.5, with a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 90%.

Conclusions:  The cut-off index value of IgM anti-HBc to differentiate acute hepatitis B from chronic hepatitis B with acute flare among Taiwanese patients should be set at 2.4–2.5 instead of 0.8–1.2.