Ten patients were studied serially during acute hepatitis type B for lymphocyte sensitization to the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and to the complete hepatitis B virion (Dane particle). Using the lymphocyte transformation test, sensitization to purified HBsAg was not observed during the first 10 days of illness but became detectable later, being particularly evident during convalescence, while sensitization to antigens of the complete virion, other than HBsAg, was demonstrable as soon as at the onset of symptoms, often at the time of maximum liver cell damage. These results indicate that in the course of acute hepatitis type B, lymphocyte sensitization to other antigens of the complete virion precedes that to HBsAg and may be of greater pathogenetic importance.
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