Hepatitis B core-related antigen (HBcrAg) is a composite measure of the serum levels of hepatitis B e antigen, hepatitis B core antigen, and a 22-kDa precore protein. It has been shown to reflect the level and transcriptional activity of covalently closed circular DNA in the liver. Longitudinal cohort studies have improved our understanding of the role of this novel viral marker in the natural history of chronic hepatitis B. HBcrAg kinetics reflect the response to peginterferon, and its role in defining guidelines for stopping peginterferon therapy has been evaluated. HBcrAg is a marker of intrahepatic viral activity, which may influence the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. In this article, we review the virology and role of HBcrAg in defining phases of chronic hepatitis B. Furthermore, the function of HBcrAg in predicting treatment outcomes and its role in monitoring response to novel antiviral agents will be discussed.
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