Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

Anti-hepatitis B core antigen testing with detection and characterization of occult hepatitis B virus by an in-house nucleic acid testing among blood donors in Behrampur, Ganjam, Orissa in southeastern India: implications for transfusion

Rajesh Panigrahi4, Avik Biswas4, Sibnarayan Datta14, Arup Banerjee24, Partha K Chandra34, Pradip K Mahapatra7, Bharat Patnaik6, Sekhar Chakrabarti45 and Runu Chakravarty4*

Author Affiliations

1 Defence Research Laboratory, Tezpur, Assam-784001, India

2 Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Saint Louis University, St Louis, 63104 MO, USA

3 Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, 70112 LA, USA

4 ICMR Virus Unit, Kolkata, ID & BG Hospital Campus, Kolkata, India

5 National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata, India

6 Red Cross Blood Bank, M.K.C.G. Medical College, Behrampur, Orissa, India

7 Department of Chemistry, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India

For all author emails, please log on.

Virology Journal 2010, 7:204  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-7-204

Published: 27 August 2010



Occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection might transmit viremic units into the public blood supply if only hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) testing is used for donor screening. Our aim was to evaluate the prevalence of occult HBV infection among the HBsAg negative/antiHBc positive donations from a highly HIV prevalent region of India.


A total of 729 HBsAg negative donor units were included in this study. Surface gene and precore region were amplified by in house nucleic acid test (NAT) for detection of occult HBV infection and surface gene was analyzed after direct sequencing.


A total of 220 (30.1%) HBsAg negative donors were antiHBc positive, of them 66 (30%) were HBV DNA positive by NAT. HBV DNA positivity among 164 antiHBc only group, was 27.1% and among 40 antiHBs positive group was 30.0%. HBV/D (93.3%) was predominant and prevalence of both HBV/C and HBV/A was 3.3%. Single or multiple amino acids substitutions were found in 95% samples.


Thus, a considerable number of HBV infected donors remain undiagnosed, if only HBsAg is used for screening. Addition of antiHBc testing for donor screening, although will lead to rejection of a large number of donor units, will definitely eliminate HBV infected donations and help in reducing HBV transmission with its potential consequences, especially among the immunocompromised population. The HBV genetic diversity found in this donor population are in accordance with other parts of India.