Detection of Viral Antigens in Renal Tissue of Glomerulonephritis Patients Without Serological Evidence of Hepatitis B Virus and Hepatitis C Virus Infection

Int J Infect Dis. 2013 Jul;17(7):e535-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2013.01.017. Epub 2013 Mar 7.


Objectives: Glomerulonephritis is an important extrahepatic manifestation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. HBV and HCV infection may be occult, and they are often overlooked by both patients and doctors. The aim of this study was to assess the importance of HBV and HCV infection in glomerulonephritis patients with undetectable HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) and HCV antibody in serum.

Methods: The HBsAg, the HBV core antigen (HBcAg), and the HCV antigen were detected using immunohistochemistry in frozen renal tissues of 500 glomerulonephritis patients without serological evidence of HBV and HCV infection. Electron microscopy was used to trace the virus particles, and clinicopathological features were also reviewed.

Results: HBsAg or HBcAg was positive in nine out of 500 cases (9/500, 1.8%). Three cases were HBsAg-positive and another six cases were HBcAg-positive. The HCV antigen was found in eight cases (8/500, 1.6%). There was one case of HBV and HCV co-infection (1/500, 0.2%). Under electron microscopy, virus particles were found in the base membrane and cytoplasm of endotheliocytes in the glomerulus. The most common clinical manifestation was nephrotic syndrome (9/18), followed by nephritic syndrome (7/18). Membranous nephropathy was the most common pathological diagnosis (5/18), followed by mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis (4/18) and IgA nephropathy (4/18).

Conclusions: Occult HBV and HCV infection might be implicated in HBV- or HCV-associated glomerulonephritis. More attention should be focused on the underlying cause.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China
  • Coinfection
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis / immunology*
  • Glomerulonephritis / virology
  • Hepacivirus / immunology
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis B / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B / virology
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis B Core Antigens / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B virus / immunology
  • Hepatitis B virus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis C / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Hepatitis B Core Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies