Persistence of extrahepatic hepatitis B virus DNA in the absence of detectable hepatic replication in patients with baboon liver transplants

J Med Virol. 1995 Jul;46(3):207-12. doi: 10.1002/jmv.1890460307.


The presence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA in extrahepatic tissues has been well documented. Whether HBV DNA can persist in extrahepatic tissues for long periods of time in the absence of replication in the liver has not been determined previously. Recently, two patients with end-stage liver disease secondary to chronic active HBV were treated with baboon liver xenotransplants as these animals are felt to be resistant to HBV infection. Multiple tissues from these two patients were examined for HBV DNA using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). HBV DNA was not detectable in four of five samples of the liver xenografts. A positive signal was observed in a single assay for one sample, but this sample was not positive in subsequent assays. HBV DNA was detected in peripheral blood lymphocytes, spleen, kidney, bone marrow, pancreas, lymph node, heart and small intestine. The level of HBV DNA in these tissues was too low for the detection of HBV DNA replicative intermediates by Southern hybridization; thus, it could not be determined whether the HBV DNA in these tissues represented actively replicating HBV in extrahepatic sites, integrated HBV sequences, HBV in infiltrating lymphocytes, or deposition of HBV immune complexes originating from the plasma. However, it is clear from this study that HBV DNA persisted in multiple tissues for 70 days after replication in the liver had ceased or at least was below the level of detection by PCR.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Hepatitis B / virology
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis B virus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis B virus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Liver / virology*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Papio
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Virus Latency
  • Virus Replication


  • DNA, Viral