Published online Jan 21, 2011. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i3.283
Revised: March 23, 2010
Accepted: March 30, 2010
Published online: January 21, 2011
Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is produced and secreted through a complex mechanism that is still not fully understood. In clinical fields, HBsAg has long served as a qualitative diagnostic marker for hepatitis B virus infection. Notably, advances have been made in the development of quantitative HBsAg assays, which have allowed viral replication monitoring, and there is an opportunity to make maximal use of quantitative HBsAg to elucidate its role in clinical fields. Yet, it needs to be underscored that a further understanding of HBsAg, not only from clinical point of view but also from a virologic point of view, would enable us to deepen our insights, so that we could more widely expand and apply its utility. It is also important to be familiar with HBsAg variants and their clinical consequences in terms of immune escape mutants, issues resulting from overlap with corresponding mutation in the P gene, and detection problems for the HBsAg variants. In this article, we review current concepts and issues on the quantification of HBsAg titers with respect to their biologic nature, method principles, and clinically relevant topics.