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December 5, 1977

Prognostic Implications of the e Antigen of Hepatitis B Virus

Author Affiliations

From the Faculty of Biochemistry (Dr Fay) and the Faculty of Medicine (Dr Tanno), National University of Rosario; the Liver Unit, Sanatario Parque, Rosario, Argentina (Dr Roncoroni); and the Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles; (Drs Mosley, Redeker, and Ms Edwards).

JAMA. 1977;238(23):2501-2503. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280240047018

The e antigen HBeAg and its antibody anti-HB have been said to be predictive of chronicity and resolution, respectively, in viral hepatitis. We found, as have others, a specific association with hepatitis B virus-induced disease. In addition, detectability of HBeAg in the acute phase of type B hepatitis was followed by a sixfold higher incidence of chronic hepatitis. Unfortunately, the prediction was erroneous in 65% of positive cases and 6% of negative cases. In chronic hepatitis, HBeAg did not necessarily disappear in advance of resolution, and its disappearance did not necessarily indicate resolution. Two patients with acute hepatitis progressing to chronicity were anti-HBe-positive in both phases, as were seven (5%) with chronic hepatitis. For individual patients, therefore, HBeAg and anti-HBe are not prognostically useful indexes.

(JAMA 238:2501-2503,1977)