Hep B labs/interpretation

Hep B labs/interpretation

Hepatitis Labs

Appears at the onset of symptoms in acute hepatitis B and persists for life. The presence of anti-HBc indicates previous or ongoing infection with hepatitis B virus in an undefined time frame.

A protein on the surface of hepatitis B virus; it can be detected in high levels in serum during acute or chronic hepatitis B virus infection. The presence of HBsAg indicates that the person is infectious. The body normally produces antibodies to HBsAg as part of the normal immune response to infection. HBsAg is the antigen used to make hepatitis B vaccine.

The presence of anti-HBs is generally interpreted as indicating recovery and immunity from hepatitis B virus infection. Anti-HBs also develops in a person who has been successfully vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Positivity indicates recent infection with hepatitis B virus (<6 mos). Its presence indicates acute infection.


Susceptible -- May indicate need for hepatitis B vaccination

Interpretation unclear; five possibilities:

  • Resolved infection (most common)
  • False-positive anti-HBc, thus susceptible
  • "Low level" chronic infection
  • Resolving acute infection
  • Passive transfer of anti-HBc via the placenta during pregnancy