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March 12, 1982

Specificity of Radioimmunoassay for Hepatitis B e Antigen

JAMA. 1982;247(10):1404. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320350018004

To the Editor.—  Several different serological markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) are clinically useful in the determination of the precise status of HBV infection or immunity of the patient and the prognosis. In this regard, the presence of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) is of special interest as it has been linked with greater infectivity and overall poor prognosis.1,2 We present evidence that shows that it may be dangerous to rely on the apparent presence of HBeAg in a patient's blood without adequate supportive tests.Using Abbott-HBe kits (Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Ill), we found two serum samples with unusual activity. One was reactive for HBeAg, but was nonreactive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) (Ausria II, Abbott Laboratories), and the other had nonspecific activity for HBsAg.3 Both samples were nonreactive for anti-HBs (Ausab, Abbott Laboratories) and anti-HBc (Corab, Abbott Laboratories). We regarded it as unusual to