Frequency and significance of antibodies against hepatitis B core (anti-HBc) antigen as the only serological marker for hepatitis B infection in Lebanese blood donors

Epidemiol Infect. 2005 Aug;133(4):695-9. doi: 10.1017/s0950268805003948.


During a 2-year period, blood samples from 2505 Lebanese blood donors were chosen at random, at various periods of time at one blood donation centre (Hotel Dieu de France, Beirut, Lebanon) and were screened for markers of HBV infection (HBsAg, anti-HBc and anti-HBs). The study showed HBsAg positivity of 0.6% and an overall exposure rate to HBV of 10.0%. Out of the 2505 blood donors screened, 56 (22%) were found to be 'anti-HBc alone' positive which is almost four times the HBsAg positivity. The 56 'anti-HBc alone' samples were retested by another ELISA kit commercially available and 54 samples were 'anti-HBc alone' positive by both assays. The 54 samples had no serological markers as evidence of infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). Only seven (13%) out of the 54 samples were HBV DNA positive by PCR and all were HBV genotype D. All seven HBV DNA-positive samples had HBV DNA levels below 400 copies/ml. Although any circulating HBV DNA among our 'anti-HBc alone' blood donors was below the detection limit of our Amplicor Monitor assay, some of these samples had circulating virus. A national study, where a larger number of blood donors from different blood donation centres across the country will perhaps determine whether screening for anti-HBc in addition to HBsAg detection is needed in Lebanese blood donors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood / virology
  • Blood Donors*
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / immunology
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / analysis
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B Core Antigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lebanon / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Viral Load


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Hepatitis B Core Antigens