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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-21

Hepatitis B viral load in diagnosing different clinical stages of chronic hepatitis B in a tertiary care hospital in North Kerala

Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Shabina Methele Pangat Balakrishnan
Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-1282.184756

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Background: The diagnosis of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection has progressed from serological to molecular diagnostic methods. The newer sensitive technique of quantitation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has helped in understanding the clinical stages of CHB, deciding on treatment and monitoring treatment response. Aim: This study aimed to determine the HBV DNA load by quantitative RT-PCR in the various clinical stages of CHB. Materials and Methods: Blood samples of CHB patients from the Gastroenterology Department received from June 2014 to December 2014 in the Microbiology Department were subjected to quantitative PCR analysis for HBV DNA. However, to facilitate analysis, only those patients' samples where hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) status were known were selected for the study. Statistical analysis was done using SPSS (PASW statistics 18) for windows software. Chi-square test was used to analyse the differences in DNA level between the study groups. Results: A total of 71 CHB patients were included in the study. Of these, 29 (40.8%) were inactive carriers (HBeAg-negative ALT normal) and 42 (59.2%) were chronic active hepatitis B patients (ALT elevated with HBeAg-positive and HBeAg-negative cases). HBeAg was positive in 26 (36.6%) and negative in 45 (63.3%) patients. Among the 45 HBeAg-negative patients, 16 (22.5%) had CHB. Of the 71 CHB patients, 61 (85.9%) had detectable viral load. Serum HBV DNA load of 16 patients who were HBeAg-negative was significantly lower (median 5.5 × 105) than that of 26 patients who were HBeAg-positive (median 2.4 × 108) and higher than the 29 inactive carriers (median 1.6 × 103). Based on HBV load, 14 CHB patients who were HBeAg-positive and seven who were HBeAg-negative were started on antiviral therapy. Conclusion: Quantitation of HBV DNA based on HBeAg and ALT status helps to determine the stages of CHB. It could play an important role in assessing the status of those patients who are HBeAg-negative and inactive carriers with respect to viral load, as the former require treatment. The major role of HBV DNA determination is to evaluate patients with CHB (HBeAg-positive or HBeAg-negative) and to decide on antiviral therapy.

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