Hepatitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the liver. This condition is often caused by different types of the hepatitis virus. These include the hepatitis A virus (HAV), the hepatitis C virus (HCV), the hepatitis E virus (HEV), the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and the hepatitis D virus (HDV). Testing the blood for the diagnosis and management of infection from these viruses involves the use of various hepatitis serology examination. Examples of these hepatitis serology tests are hepatitis A serology, hepatitis C serology, and hepatitis B serology.
When a patient has an infection caused by the hepatitis virus, the body produces cells called antibodies. These antibodies are created to fight the specific type of virus that caused the infection. There are two subtypes of antibodies usually tested in hepatitis serology, the IgG and IgM. The presence of IgM often indicates recent or ongoing infection, while the IgG frequently reveals a past infection or an infection that has already resolved.
Infection with HAV usually stimulates the immune system to release specific antibodies known as anti-HAV. Hepatitis A serology often uses anti-HAV and IgM anti-HAV tests. The anti-HAV test usually determines the presence of antibodies against HAV, but it cannot specify if it is a recent infection or a resolved one. Test for IgM anti-HAV, on the other hand, can be used to diagnose a recent or acute hepatitis A infection.
The HBV contains several materials that stimulate the body to produce specific antibodies against them. Examples are antibodies to HBV surface antigen (Hbs), core antigen (Hbc), and e antigen (Hbe). Hepatitis serology for HBV infection includes several tests such as anti-HBs, anti-HBc, IgM anti-HBc and anti-HBe, among others. These serological tests are often performed in order to detect present or past infection with HBV, to determine if the infection is acute or chronic, to assess severity of infection, and to monitor treatment. After vaccination against the hepatitis B virus, an anti-HBs test is frequently done to check whether the body has developed the needed antibodies to fight against infection with the virus.
Hepatitis serology for HCV includes the anti-HCV test. This test frequently determines acute and long-term infection with HCV. There are also the anti-HDV and anti-HEV for detection of infection with the hepatitis D and E virus, respectively.
These hepatitis serology tests are generally performed with a blood sample from the vein of patients suspected of having hepatitis infection. Common symptoms usually manifested by affected patients include nausea, loss of appetite, fever, and pain in the upper portion of the right abdomen. Some patients may also develop jaundice, which is a condition that causes the eyes and skin to appear yellow. Aside from hepatitis serology testing, a liver function test may also be done.