Introduction. The intrahepatic hepatitis B surface antigens (HBsAg) expression is related to disease progression of chronic hepatitis B. We examined the features of intrahepatic HBsAg expression. Material and methods. A total of 181 patients with e antigen positive chronic hepatitis B were enrolled. Patterns and semi-quantitative measurement of intrahepatic HBsAg expression were analyzed. The association of intrahepatic hepatitis HBsAg expression with clinical, viral, and histological characteristics was evaluated. Results. Higher necroinflammation grade and greater fibrosis stage accompanied with lower serum HBV DNA and HBsAg levels were observed in patients with type II ground glass hepatocytes and 2+/3+ scales of intrahepatic HBsAg expression. Basal core promoter T1762/A1764 mutations were strongly associated with the pattern of type II ground glass hepatocytes expression (P < 0.001) and higher level of HBsAg expression (9.3 ± 8.0% vs. 4.3 ± 5.0%, P = 0.008). In multivariate analysis, basal core promoter mutations (Odds ratio: 6.356, 95% confidence interval: 1.204 ∼ 33.356, P = 0.029) was associated with 2+/3+ scale of HBsAg expression. Conclusion. Both pattern and levels of intrahepatic HBsAg expression were associated with severity of liver disease in e antigen positive chronic hepatitis B. Strong relationship between intrahepatic HBsAg expression and basal core promoter 1762/A1764 mutations indicated that HBsAg expression may be the histological manifestation of hepatitis B virus genomic evolution under host immune surveillance.
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