Hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAg) is a viral protein associated with HBV infections. Unlike the surface antigen, the e-antigen is found in the blood only when there are viruses also present. When the virus goes into “hiding,” the e-antigen will no longer be present in the blood. HBeAg is often used as a marker of ability to spread the virus to other people (infectivity). Measurement of e-antigen may also be used to monitor the effectiveness of HBV treatment; successful treatment will usually eliminate HBeAg from the blood and lead to development of antibodies against e-antigen (anti-HBe). There are some types (strains) of HBV that do not make e-antigen; these are especially common in the Middle East and Asia. In areas where these strains of HBV are common, testing for HBeAg is not very useful.
HBeAg; HBV; HepB
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