Hepatitis B virus e antigen (HBeAg) measurement is used to determine the infectivity of hepatitis B virus vectors, to monitor the status of patients with chronic hepatitis B, and to monitor the response of patients with chronic hepatitis B receiving antiviral treatment.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV), has an incubation period of 6 to 23 weeks (mean 17 weeks). It is mainly transmitted by blood and certain secretions of the body. Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through the use of infected needles. This form of hepatitis is more severe than hepatitis A. It damages the liver cells and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. The treatment involves the use of interferon and antiviral drugs in an attempt to control the virus's proliferation. Vaccination for HBV provides protection for over 20 years.
Hepatitis B virus consists of an outer shell that surrounds an inner "core". The outer shell contains a protein called hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) or Australian antigen. The inner core contains the hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg). The inner core also contains another protein called e (HBeAg) antigen. The human body reacts to the presence of these antigens by producing antibodies against them. Thus, laboratory testing includes tests for the presence of antigens as well as antibodies (HBsAb, HBcAb and HBeAb).
Hepatitis B Antigen (HBeAg)
This test determines the hepatitis B virus e antigen. This antigen usually occurs within 4 to 12 weeks of infection and is present for only 3 to 6 weeks. Unlike surface antigen s, antigen e is present in the blood only when viruses are present. HBeAg levels are correlated with the virus's titre (ie, its amount), so this test is primarily used to assess the degree of infectivity. The presence of HBeAg indicates that the virus can be transmitted to others. If the antigen e remains in the blood for more than 3 months, chronic liver disease is likely. The measurement of HBeAg can also be used to monitor the efficacy of antiviral therapy, since successful treatment should lead to HBeAg resuscitation in the blood and the simultaneous presence of anti-HBe antibodies.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. Correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.