Research Article

Detection of hepatitis B virus DNA in mononuclear blood cells.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 26 May 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:1563
  1. P Pontisso,
  2. M C Poon,
  3. P Tiollais,
  4. C Brechot


    The Southern transfer hybridisation technique was used to test mononuclear blood cells for hepatitis B virus DNA. Viral DNA sequences were detected in mononuclear cells of 10 out of 16 patients with hepatitis B virus infection and in none of 21 normal controls. Blood contamination was excluded by the absence of hepatitis B virus DNA in the corresponding serum samples in all cases. Free monomeric hepatitis B virus DNA was found in three patients positive for hepatitis Be antigen (HBeAg) and one positive for anti-HBe, and integrated hepatitis B virus DNA was present in four patients positive for anti-HBe. In two other patients the small size of the samples did not allow a distinction between free and integrated viral DNA. The state of the virus in the mononuclear cells seemed to correlate with the HBeAg or anti-HBe state, as has been noted in the liver. These results indicate that hepatitis B virus may infect mononuclear blood cells, thereby expanding the tissue specificity of this agent beyond the liver, as has been reported for pancreatic, kidney, and skin tissue. They also suggest that hepatitis B virus infection of mononuclear cells might be related to immunological abnormalities observed in carriers of the virus.