Hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconversion constitutes a significant milestone in the treatment of HBeAg-positive patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB), but studies have yet to identify the specific humoral immune mechanisms behind the process or any accurate markers that can determine the virus-host immune status and, thereby, predict the degree of HBeAg seroconversion achievable. In the present longitudinal study, higher frequencies of circulating CXCR5+CD4+ T cells and CD19+CD38+ B cells were found in peginterferon-α treated HBeAg-positive CHB patients in whom HBeAg seroconversion had been achieved. What's more, both cell types peaked at 24 weeks for the HBeAg seroconversion group, while showing only a slight variation in the HBeAg non-seroconversion group. In addition, circulating CXCR5+CD4+ T cells and hepatitis B surface antigens (HBsAg) were assessed at 24 weeks and 12 weeks, respectively, and the use of their ratio was explored in terms of its ability to predict HBeAg seroconversion.Conclusion:
Dysfunction of the humoral immune response mediated by CXCR5+CD4+ T cells is associated with the failure of HBeAg seroconversion. The CXCR5+CD4+ T cells/HBsAg ratio is an ideal marker for predicting HBeAg seroconversion in CHB patients.