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Diagnostic markers of viral hepatitis B and C.
  1. C Trépo,
  2. F Zoulim,
  3. C Alonso,
  4. M A Petit,
  5. C Pichoud,
  6. L Vitvitski
  1. Inserm U 271, Lyon, France.


    Hepatitis B virus (HBV) serology has become extremely refined. As well as the recognised hepatitis B surface (HBs), hepatitis B core (HBc), and hepatitis B e (HBe) antigen-antibody systems, new markers have been introduced including pre-S1, pre-S2 for the envelope and the functional X protein. New automates have been introduced allowing flexibility in the different tests according to precise needs. The monitoring of pre-S1 antigen provides a relevant correlate of viral replication. The quantitative determination of HBV-DNA, pre-S1 Ag, and IgM anti-HBc seem most useful for the decision to use, and the monitoring of, antiviral treatment. Second generation ELISAs detect antibodies to three sets of hepatitis C virus (HCV) protein including the c22 core, and c33, and c100, which correspond to the non-structural regions (NS3 and NS4, respectively). Second generation ELISAs require confirmation by supplement assays, but their biggest limitation is the delayed appearance of anti-HCV after primary infection. In addition 10% of chronic infections with liver disease still remain seronegative despite circulating HCV RNA in serum or liver, or both. Much progress still has to be made before HCV serology can reach the level of sophistication of HBV.

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