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A recently modified method using peroxidase labeled antibodies for light and electron microscopic demonstration of hepatitis B virus (HBV) was applied to the evaluation of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) on the surface of liver cells in biopsy specimens from 24HBsAg chronic carriers. Membranous distribution of HBsAg was demonstrated in diffuse or scattered hepatocytes in all 4 asymptomatic carriers and in 3 of the 20 patients with HBsAg-positive chronic active hepatitis or liver cirrhosis. In these patients with membranous expression of HBsAg, hepatitis B e antigen, Dane particles and DNA polymerase were often detected in sera, and large amounts of hepatitis B core antigen appeared in the liver. These results suggest that membrane-bound HBsAg may be expressed by the HBV genome. The ultrastructural study of liver cells showing membranous expression disclosed dense deposits of reaction product indicative of HBsAg on the cell membrane and/or on assembled particles within the extracellular space. In some hepatocytes showing both diffuse cytoplasmic and membranous expression of HBsAg, HBsAg-positive membrane of cisternae open to the intercellular space was connected with the liver cell membrane. These findings supported the conjecture that HBV associated antigens are integrated into the liver cell membrane.
type B hepatitis
peroxidase-labeled antibody method.
Acta Medica Okayama
Okayama University Medical School
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