Introduction of systematic hepatitis B vaccination has lead to a strong decrease of new infections, but there are still a high numbers of chronically infected persons suffering on long-term complications. Using quantitative assays for the determination of HbsAg (qHBsAg) has improved our understanding of chronic hepatitis B (CHB). The concentrations of HBsAg are strongly varying through the different stages of infection. The quantitative determination of HBsAg does not only yield in additional information to the infection activity, but also provides data for an improved follow up independent from the virus load. As to the prediction of disease progression, low-viremic carriers with high HbsAg levels have been shown to be at higher risk of HBeAg negative hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Although, quantitative HBsAg determination has been widely used in CHB patients receiving pegylated interferon therapy, the HbsAg decline is slow compared to HBV-DNA levels during nucleos(t)ide analogue (NUC) therapy. However a rapid HbsAg decline during NUC therapy may identify patients who will finally clear HbsAg. A 6- to 12-monthly assessment of HbsAg level could be considered during NUC therapy. Taking these lines of evidence together, qHBsAg can complement HBV-DNA levels to optimize the management of CHB patients.
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.