Jun Muto, Masaya Sugiyama, Ken Shirabe, Motokazu Mukaide, Ikue Kirikae-Muto, Toru Ikegami, Tomoharu Yoshizumi, Yo-ichi Yamashita, Yoshihiko Maehara, Masashi Mizokami
Introduction and aim. Occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (OBI) represents a state without detectable hepatitis B surface antigen, but positive for HBV DNA. The correlation between OBI and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) carcinogenesis is controversial. We studied the frequency and characteristics of OBI among HCC patients and metastatic liver cancer patients. Material and methods. DNA was obtained from tumor and non-tumor tissues from 75 HCC patients (15 chronic hepatitis B (CHB), 39 chronic hepatitis C (CHC), 21 cryptogenic) and 15 metastatic liver cancer patients who underwent liver resection. HBV DNA and covalentlyclosed circular (ccc) DNA were detected using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and four HBV DNA regions were detected by nested PCR. Clinicopathological factors were compared between patients with and without OBI. Results. HBV DNA was detected in 14 (93.3%) CHB, five (22.7%) cryptogenic and four (10.3%) CHC patients. cccDNA was detected in 12 (80.0%) CHB, three (14.3%) cryptogenic and two (5.1%) CHC patients. All CHB, eight (38.1%) cryptogenic and ten (25.6%) CHC patients tested positive with nested PCR. No metastatic liver cancer patients were positive for any HBV DNA regions. OBI patients had shorter prothrombin times (P = 0.0055), and lower inflammation activity score in non-tumor liver (P = 0.0274). There were no differences in anti-HBV antibodies. Conclusions. OBI was detected in 38% of cryptogenic and 25.6% of CHC patients. There was no correlation between OBI and anti-HBV antibodies, but fewer patients with OBI had high inflammatory activity, suggesting that factors other than inflammation may be involved in HCC carcinogenesis in patients with OBI.
Key words. Occult hepatitis B virus infection, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Inflammation