We assessed the frequency of serological markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in 365 alcoholics by determining, by ELISA, the presence of HBsAg, anti-HBc, anti-HBs and anti-HCV. Fifty patients were cirrhotics and 315 had no evidence of hepatic cirrhosis; of the latter HBsAg was assessed in all, anti-HBc and anti-HBs in 130, and anti-HCV in 210. Among the alcoholics the frequencies of HBsAg (1.9%), anti-HBc (28.3%) and anti-HCV (3.8%) were higher (p<0.001) than among the controls (N=17,059), 0.4%, 4.0% and 0.4% respectively. The frequency of positive HBsAg was higher (p<0.001) in the cirrhotic patients (8.0%) than in alcoholics without cirrhosis (0.95%) and in controls (0.4%), and similar between the latter; of anti-HBc in alcoholics without cirrhosis (28.5%) was similar in cirrhotics patients (28.0%) and higher (p<0.001) than in the controls (4.0%); of anti-HBs in alcoholics without cirrhosis (20.8%) was similar to that of the cirrhotic patients (10.0%), and the anti-HCV was similar between alcoholics with (6.0%) and without cirrhosis (3.3%) and higher (p<0.001) than in controls (0.4%). We concluded that: a) alcoholics with or without cirrhosis have similar frequencies of infection with HBV and HCV between them, and higher than in nonalcoholics; b) alcoholics without cirrhosis had a frequency of HBV active infection (HBsAg+) which was similar to the controls, whereas among those who progressed to cirrhosis this frequency was significantly higher, what suggests that HBV may be implicated in the pathogenesis of cirrhosis in a few alcoholic individuals.
Hepatitis B virus; Hepatitis C virus; Alcoholism; Alcoholic liver disease; Alcoholic cirrhosis