Occult hepatitis B viral DNA in liver carcinomas from a region with a low prevalence of chronic hepatitis B infection

J Viral Hepat. 2004 Jul;11(4):297-301. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2004.00502.x.


Occult hepatitis B is defined by the presence of hepatitis B viral (HBV) DNA in the serum or liver in persons lacking hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in the serum. A high prevalence of occult HBV has been reported in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from Asia, but little information is available on the prevalence of occult HBV in HCC from regions with a low prevalence of typical chronic hepatitis B infection. In a retrospective study, 19 cases of primary liver cancer were investigated for the presence of occult HBV DNA by amplification of the surface, core, and X gene. In addition, HBV copy numbers were quantitated by real time polymerase chain reaction, genotyped, and samples tested for covalently closed circular HBV DNA, which is a marker of active viral replication. Occult HBV was found in three of 19 cases (16%). Genotyping was successful in two cases, both of which were genotype A. HBV DNA copy numbers were low, all less than 10 copies/microg liver DNA. No closed circular HBV DNA was detected. Thus, in this study occult HBV was of genotype A and was found in a low percentage of cases of HCC and was associated with low tissue HBV DNA copy numbers and no detectable evidence for viral replication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / complications
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology*
  • DNA, Superhelical / analysis
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / blood
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis B virus / immunology
  • Hepatitis B virus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / virology*
  • Humans
  • Liver / virology
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Virus Replication


  • DNA, Superhelical
  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens