Infection in the initial stages of infection in a patient. Hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAg) is detectable in the early phase of hepatitis B infection soon after hepatitis B surface antigen becomes detectable. Because of viral replication, serum levels of both antigens rise rapidly. More HBeAg in the blood indicates hepatitis B virus (HBV) infectivity, the number of viral Dane particles, the presence of core antigen in the nucleus of the hepatocyte, and presence of viral DNA polymerase in serum. In patients with chronic hepatitis B or in HBV carriers positive HBeAg results usually indicate the presence of active HBV replication and high infectivity and a negative HBeAg result indicates very minimal or lack of HBV replication.
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