Diagnosis of hepatitis A and B by testing saliva

J Med Virol. 1989 Aug;28(4):255-60. doi: 10.1002/jmv.1890280410.


The use of salivary samples to diagnose acute viral hepatitis was investigated. Tests for IgM antibody to hepatitis A virus (anti-HAV) on 29 acute-phase samples from serologically confirmed cases of hepatitis A were strongly reactive. Follow-up samples indicated that IgM anti-HAV persisted at moderate levels for 2-4 months and was not usually detectable thereafter. The ratio of IgM to IgG anti-HAV (RIA index) correlated closely with the interval from onset of infection. Significant levels of IgM anti-HAV were not detected in the saliva of 103 IgG anti-HAV positive and 102 IgG anti-HAV negative individuals nor of 4 individuals with hepatitis B. Similarly, IgM anti-HBc was present in the saliva of acute cases of hepatitis B, but not in the saliva of 25 IgG anti-HBc positive and 85 IgG anti-HBc negative individuals, nor of 24 individuals with recent hepatitis A. It is concluded that saliva is a convenient and satisfactory alternative to serum for the diagnosis of hepatitis A infection.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks
  • England
  • Hepatitis A / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis A / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / analysis*
  • Hepatitis B virus / immunology
  • Hepatovirus / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Saliva / microbiology*


  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M