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Korean J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1998 Sep;1(1):56-78. Korean.
Published online Sep 30, 1998.
Copyright © 1998 The Korean Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Chronic HBV Infection in Children: The histopathologic classification and its correlation with clinical findings
Seon Young Lee, Jae Sung Ko, Chong Jai Kim, Ja June Jang and Jeong Kee Seo
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine Seoul National University, Korea.
Department of Pathology, College of Medicine Seoul National University, Korea.


Chronic hepatitis B infection (CHB) occurs in 6% to 10% of population in Korea. In ethinic communities where prevalence of chronic infection is high such as Korea, transmission of hepatitis B infection is either vertical (ie, by perinatal infection) or by close family contact (usually from mothers or siblings) during the first 5 years of life. The development of chronic hepatitis B infection is increasingly more common the earlier a person is exposed to the virus, particularly in fetal and neonatal life. And it progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, especially in severe liver damage and perinatal infection. Histopathology of CHB is important when evaluating the final outcomes. A numerical scoring system which is a semiquantitatively assessed objective reproducible classification of chronic viral hepatitis, is a valuable tool for statistical analysis when predicting the outcome and evaluating antiviral and other therapies. In this study, a numerical scoring system (Ludwig system) was applied and compared with the conventional histological classification of De Groute. And the comparative analysis of cinical findings, family history, serology, and liver function test by histopathological findings in chronic hepatitis B of children was done.


Ninety nine patients [mean age=9 years (range=17 months to 16 years)] with clinical, biochemical, serological and histological patterns of chronic HBV infection included in this study. Five of these children had hepatocelluar carcinoma. They were 83 male and 16 female children. They all underwent liver biopsies and histologic evaluation was performed by one pathologist. The biopsy specimens were classified, according to the standard criteria of De Groute as follows: normal, chronic lobular hepatitis (CLH), chronic persistent hepatitis (CPH), mild to severe chronic active hepatitis (CAH), or active cirrhosis, inactive cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). And the biopsy specimens were also assessed and scored semiquantitatively by the numerical scoring Ludwig system. Serum HBsAg, anti-HBs, HBeAg, anti-HBe, anti-HBc (IgG, IgM), and HDV were measured by radioimunoassays.


Male predominated in a proportion of 5.2 : 1 for all patients. Of 99 patients, 2 cases had normal, 2 cases had CLH, 22 cases had CPH, 40 cases had mild CAH, 19 cases had moderate CAH, 1 case had severe CAH, 7 cases had active cirrhosis, 1 case had inactive cirrhosis, and 5 cases had HCC. The mean age, sex distribution, symptoms, signs, and family history did not differ statistically among the different histologic groups. The numerical scoring system was correlated well with the conventional histological classification. The histological activity evaluated by both the conventional classification and the scoring system was more severe as the levels of serum aminotransferases were higher. In contrast, the levels of serum aminotransferases were not useful for predicting the degree of histologic activity because of its wide range overlapping. When the histological activity was more severe and especially the cirrhosis more progressing, the prothrombin time was more prolonged. The histological severity was inversely related with the duration of seroconversion of HBeAg.


The histological activity could not be accurately predicted by clinical and biochemical findings, but by the proper histological classification of the numerical scoring system for the biopsy specimen. The numerical scoring system was correlated well with the conventional histological classification, and it seems to be a valuable tool for the statistical analysis when predicting the outcome and evaluating effects of antiviral and other therapies in chronic hepatitis B in children.

Keywords: Chronic hepatitis B; Histopathology; Scoring system