The immunology of hepatitis B

Clin Liver Dis. 2007 Nov;11(4):727-59, vii-viii. doi: 10.1016/j.cld.2007.08.001.


The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is an enveloped, hepatotrophic, oncogenic hepadnavirus that is noncytopathic for hepatocytes. HBV infection results in a variety of outcomes that are determined by the quality, quantity, and kinetics of the host innate and adaptive immune responses. Whether HBV infection is cleared or persists as a progressive or nonprogressive liver disease is determined by both viral and host factors. Replicative intermediates can persist in the liver under immunologic control after resolution of acute or chronic hepatitis B, conferring a risk for reactivation following a course of immunosuppression or chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis B Antigens / immunology
  • Hepatitis B virus / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Virus Activation / immunology


  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Hepatitis B Antigens