Immune Responses

Antibody and cell-mediated immune responses to various types of antigens are induced during acute infection; however, not all these are protective and, in some instances, may cause autoimmune phenomena that contribute to disease pathogenesis. The immune response to infection with HBV is directed toward at least three antigens: HBsAg, the core antigen, and the e antigen. The view that hepatitis B exerts its damaging effect on hepatocytes by direct cytopathic changes is inconsistent with the persistence of large quantities of the surface antigen in liver cells of many apparently healthy carriers. Additional evidence suggests that the pathogenesis of liver damage in the course of hepatitis B infection is related to the immune response by the host.

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