Korean J Gastroenterol.  2013 Sep;62(3):143-147. 10.4166/kjg.2013.62.3.143.

Definition, Diagnosis, and Prevalence of Occult Hepatitis B Virus Infection

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Gachon University School of Medicine, Incheon, Korea. kimys@gilhospital.com


Occult HBV infection is characterized by the absence of serum HBsAg with persistence of low level of intrahepatic HBV DNA. Several suggested mechanisms for the origin of occult HBV infection include strong suppression of viral replication and gene expression, mutation in the regulatory regions of HBV genome, formation of immunoglobulin-bound HBsAg, viral interference, and blockage of HBsAg secretion from infected hepatocytes. Standardized assays are not yet available, and sensitive HBV DNA amplification assay is necessary for the diagnosis of cryptic infection. Detection rate of HBV DNA is highest in IgG anti-HBc positive population. However, neither anti-HBc nor anti-HBs can be detected in a significant proportion of infected persons. Occult HBV infection occurs in a number of clinical settings and is highly prevalent in HCV-infected patients as well as in patients with cryptogenic chronic liver disease including hepatocellular carcinoma.


Occult hepatitis B virus infection
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