Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in the liver of patients with hepatitis; a comparison with serological detection.
Chronic hepatitis was diagnosed on liver biopsy of 76 patients; 52 (68%)had HBsAg. Of the 52 patients with HBsAg, 23% had HBsAg shown by immunofluorescence on the liver, while it could not be detected with radioimmunoassay on the serum; 77% had HBsAg detectable in liver and in serum, and none had HBsAg in serum only. HBsAg was detected more frequently in chronic aggressive hepatitis and active cirrhosis than in chronic persistent hepatitis and cirrhosis with little activity. No correlation was found in the different forms of chronic hepatitis between the HBsAg status on the one hand, and levels of transaminases, gammaglobulins, and auto-antibodies on the other. Acute hepatitis was diagnosed on liver biopsy of 24 patients; 50% had HBsAg. Liver tissue positivity was very low in the fully developed stage compared to serum positivity. In 146 patients with other liver ailments, both liver and serum were negative for HBsAg.