Two distinct subtypes of hepatitis B virus-related acute liver failure are separable by quantitative serum immunoglobulin M anti-hepatitis B core antibody and hepatitis B virus DNA levels

Doan Y. Dao, Linda S. Hynan, He Jun Yuan, Corron Sanders, Jody Balko, Nahid Attar, Anna S F Lok, R. Ann Word, William M. Lee

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25 Scopus citations


Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related acute liver failure (HBV-ALF) may occur after acute HBV infection (AHBV-ALF) or during an exacerbation of chronic HBV infection (CHBV-ALF). Clinical differentiation of the two is often difficult if a previous history of HBV is not available. Quantitative measurements of immunoglobulin M (IgM) anti-hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) titers and of HBV viral loads (VLs) might allow the separation of AHBV-ALF from CHBV-ALF. Of 1,602 patients with ALF, 60 met clinical criteria for AHBV-ALF and 27 for CHBV-ALF. Sera were available on 47 and 23 patients, respectively. A quantitative immunoassay was used to determine IgM anti-HBc levels, and real-time polymerase chain reaction (rtPCR) was used to determine HBV VLs. AHBV-ALFs had much higher IgM anti-HBc titers than CHBV-ALFs (signal-to-noise [S/N] ratio median: 88.5; range, 0-1,120 versus 1.3, 0-750; P < 0.001); a cut point for a S/N ratio of 5.0 correctly identified 44 of 46 (96%) AHBV-ALFs and 16 of 23 (70%) CHBV-ALFs; the area under the receiver operator characteristic curve was 0.86 (P < 0.001). AHBV-ALF median admission VL was 3.9 (0-8.1) log10 IU/mL versus 5.2 (2.0-8.7) log10 IU/mL for CHBV-ALF (P < 0.025). Twenty percent (12 of 60) of the AHBV-ALF group had no hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) detectable on admission to study, wheras no CHBV-ALF patients experienced HBsAg clearance. Rates of transplant-free survival were 33% (20 of 60) for AHBV-ALF versus 11% (3 of 27) for CHBV-ALF (P = 0.030). Conclusions: AHBV-ALF and CHBV-ALF differ markedly in IgM anti-HBc titers, in HBV VLs, and in prognosis, suggesting that the two forms are, indeed, different entities that might each have a unique pathogenesis. (HEPATOLOGY 2011)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-684
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology

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