The aim of this investigation was to elucidate a possible role of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in the pathogenesis of liver diseases in alcoholics. Two hundred and fifty-three alcoholics with liver disease were admitted to two medical departments in Copenhagen during a 15 months period. Seventy-nine patients (31%) showed serological signs (HBsAg, anti-HBs) of previous or active HBV infection. This is a significantly higher prevalence than found in an age-matched control population. Among the 79 patients with HBV markers, a total of 11 was found to be HBsAg-positive. From these 11 patients liver specimens were available for re-evaluation in nine cases. In only three of these liver biopsies, morphological changes indicating alcohol as the aetiological cause were found. In conclusion, different or concomitant aetiology must be considered in alcoholics with liver disease.
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