The application of DNA hybridisation methods to a determination of the association of hepatitis B virus with cirrhosis and hepatoma.
Autopsy liver material from patients having died of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and causes unrelated to liver diseases was examined by dot blot hybridisation for the presence of HBV DNA. The results indicate that of the patients with chronic liver disease 6/9 were positive for HBV DNA in the liver tissue; of the patients with HCC 3/4 were positive for HBV DNA; of the patients with cirrhosis 4/4 showed the presence of HBV DNA in the liver. Thus by this technique 13/17 (76%) of these patients, all of whom were HBsAg positive, were shown to have HBV DNA present in liver tissue. However, autopsy liver samples were found to be unsuitable for Southern blot hybridisation. Biopsy liver/tumour tissue was examined for the presence of integrated or non-integrated HBV DNA by Southern blot analysis using the enzymes Eco R1 and Hind 111. 5/5 patients who were both HBsAg and HBeAg positive had extrachromosomal HBV DNA and 2/5 also showed the presence of integrated HBV DNA. 3/4 patients who were HBsAg positive and HBeAg negative had extrachromosomal HBV DNA and all three also had integrated HBV DNA. One control patient was negative for both markers and also for Southern blot hybridisation with the HBV DNA probe. These results support the hypothesis that HBV is a factor in the development of HCC, and indicate that the dot blot hybridisation method would be suitable for routine evaluation of patients with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis.