Background: The prevalence and consequences of occult HBV infection in patients with chronic liver disease by HCV remain unknown.
Aims: To evaluate the prevalence of occult HBV infection in a population of HCV-infected patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
Methods: The serum samples were tested for HBV DNA by nested PCR and liver tissue analysis was carried out using the immunohistochemical technique of 66 HBsAg-negative patients: 26 patients with chronic hepatitis by HCV (group 1), 20 with hepatocellular carcinoma related to chronic infection by HCV (group 2) and 20 with negative viral markers for hepatitis B and C (control group).
Results: Occult HBV infection was diagnosed in the liver tissue of 9/46 (19.5%) HCV-infected patients. Prevalence of occult B infection was evaluated in the HCV-infected patients with and without hepatocellular carcinoma, and there were seven (77.7%) of whom from group 2, conferring a 35% prevalence of this group. No serum sample was positive for HBV DNA in the three groups.
Conclusion: Occult infection B is frequently detected in liver tissue of HCV-infected patients, especially in cases of hepatocellular carcinoma. However large studies are needed to confirm that co-infection could determine a worse progress of chronic liver disease in this population.