Research Article

Immune response to HBsAg and the spectrum of liver lesions in HBsAg-positive patients with chronic renal disease.

Br Med J 1976; 1 doi: (Published 19 June 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;1:1495
  1. R M Galbraith,
  2. N el Sheikh,
  3. B Portmann,
  4. A L Eddleston,
  5. R Williams,
  6. V Parsons,
  7. M Bewick,
  8. C S Ogg


    Evidence of chronic hepatitis was found on histological examination in nine out of 15 patients positive for hepatitis-B surface antigen (HBsAg) who had either chronic renal failure or a functioning renal transplant. Cirrhosis had already developed in three of the patients, who deteriorated rapidly and died. Liver biopsies from the remaining 12 patients showed the features of chronic aggressive hepatitis in two, chronic persistent hepatitis in four, and minor histological lesions in six. The persistence of HBsAg in patients with renal failure or in those receiving immunosuppressive drugs after a transplant must indicate some impairment of the normal immune response to hepatitis-B viral antigens. Nevertheless, cellular or humoral immunity to HBsAg was detected in all eight patients with chronic hepatitis tested compared with only one out of five with minimal liver lesions, which suggests that the severity of the liver damage may be directly related to the degree of immunocompetence.