Algorithm of serologic screening for HBsAg-mutants in hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers with high level of HBsAg was developed which is based on the detection of defects of interactions of serum HBsAg with monoclonal anti-HBs realizing as a decrease of ELISA sensitivity in 10 times or more during serial 10-fold dilutions. During 1st stage commercial test-systems based on monoclonal antibodies was used to select serum samples with discrepancy of test results. During 2nd stage HBsAg contained in selected sera was analyzed by the panel of monoclonal and polyclonal anti-HBs conjugates using decrease in ELISA sensitivity as a criterion. Serum samples from 2510 chronic carriers of HBV with high level of HBsAg were studied. 19 samples with discrepant results were found. Subsequent characterization of HBsAg with panel of 11 monoclonal and 1 polyclonal conjugates allowed to distinguish groups of sera with specific serologic "portraits". Atypical features of HBsAg were confirmed by genotyping 9 of 19 samples. Analysis of primary nucleotide sequence revealed serologically meaningful mutations in S-gene of HBV in all 9 isolates: 3 of them contained substitution mutation G145R, 5--S143L, and one--T143M. Distribution of mutations in HBsAg corresponded with specific serologic "portraits". Prevalence of HBsAg mutations in HBV carriers with high level of HBsAg was assessed for the first time: prevalence of G145R, S143L/T143M mutations, and all serologically atypical variants was 0.12%, 0.24%, and 0.76% respectively. Developed algorithm was proposed for epidemiologic monitoring of HBsAg-mutants of HBVand control of diagnostic test-systems.
A method of preparation of subtypical antisera to two determinants of hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs Ag/ay and anti-HBs Ag/ad) is described. The test system obtained was approbated on 1400 antigen-positive sera collected from blood donors and patients suffering from acute and chronic virus hepatitis in various geographical zones of the USSR. HBs Ag/ay proved to prevail (84--100%), HBs Ag/ad was distributed irregularly--from 16% in the European part of the USSR to 0--4% in the republics of the Middle Asia and Siberian regions. HBs Ag/ad was mostly determined in the population of Western regions of the European part of the USSR (the Baltic republics, 43.4%, Moldavia 24.3%).