Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(4):1125-1137. doi:10.7150/ijbs.55724 This issue

Review

Paradoxical HBsAg and anti-HBs coexistence among Chronic HBV Infections: Causes and Consequences

Xinyi Jiang1,2,3, Le Chang1,2,3, Ying Yan1,2,3, Lunan Wang1,2,3✉

1. National Center for Clinical Laboratories, Beijing Hospital, National Center of Gerontology; Institute of Geriatric Medicine, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, P.R. China.
2. Beijing Engineering Research Center of Laboratory Medicine, Beijing Hospital, P.R. China.
3. Graduate School, Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, P.R. China.

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Citation:
Jiang X, Chang L, Yan Y, Wang L. Paradoxical HBsAg and anti-HBs coexistence among Chronic HBV Infections: Causes and Consequences. Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(4):1125-1137. doi:10.7150/ijbs.55724. Available from https://www.ijbs.com/v17p1125.htm

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Abstract

Graphic abstract

Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and Hepatitis B surface antibody (anti-HBs) were reported simultaneously among Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. HBsAg is a specific indicator of acute or chronic HBV infections, while anti-HBs is a protective antibody reflecting the recovery and immunity of hosts. HBsAg and anti-HBs coexist during seroconversion and then form immune complex, which is rare detected in clinical cases. However, with the promotion of vaccination and the application of various antiviral drugs, along with the rapid development of medical technology, the coexistence of HBsAg and anti-HBs has become more prevalent. Mutations in the viral genomes, immune status and genetic factors of hosts may contribute to the coexistence. Novel HBsAg assays, with higher sensitivity and ability to detect mutations or immune complexes, can also yield HBsAg/anti-HBs coexistence. The discovery of coexistence has shattered the idea of traditional serological patterns and raised questions about the effectiveness of vaccines. Worth noting is that HBsAg/anti-HBs double positivity is strongly associated with progressive liver diseases, especially hepatocellular carcinoma. In conclusion, viral mutations, host factors, and methodology impacts can all lead to the coexistence of HBsAg and anti-HBs. This coexistence is not an indicator of improvement, as an increased risk of adverse clinical outcomes still exists.

Keywords: Hepatitis B surface antibody, Hepatitis B surface antigen, Mutation, Hepatocellular carcinoma