• anti-HBe patients;
  • biochemicals reactivation;
  • immune complexes

ABSTRACT— Sixty-four chronic hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers with hepatitis B e antibody (anti-HBe) were followed in order to detect reactivations of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and to assess the incidence and specificity of hepatitis B e antigen/hepatitis B e antibody (HBeAg/anti-HBe) immune complexes (ICs). In 18 out of 19 patients who suffered an increase in alanine transaminase (ALT) values, serum HBV-DNA reappeared co-occurring with the peak(s) of transminases. HBeAg/anti-HBe immune complexes were detected in 17/18 (94.4%) patients positive for HBV-DNA. In nine of them, the appearance of immune complexes co-occurred with prednisone therapy, in two following seroconversion after recombinant interferon alpha-2A treatment, and spontaneously in the remaining seven patients. When ALT levels dropped to normal values, immune complexes as well as HBV-DNA became undetectable. In conclusion, the detection of HBeAg/anti-HBe immune complexes seems to be a specific method to detect HBV replication among anti-HBe positive patients.