Hepatitis B is a potentially life threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.1 The disease is not always self limiting: In adults approx. 5 % of acute infections will follow a chronic course of varying degrees of severity; infants will develop chronic hepatitis B in up to 90 % of the cases.1 An estimated 257 million people are living with HBV infection. In 2015, hepatitis B resulted in 887,000 deaths, mostly from complications (including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma).1 The hepatitis B core antigen (HBc) cannot be detected in the serum, but antibodies against it appear soon after HBsAg appears in the serum, and can be detected throughout the course of HBV infection.2,3
Anti‑HBc IgM antibodies usually persist for up to 6 months, being then replaced by anti‑HBc IgG antibodies, which may persist for life.3,4 Anti-HBc IgM titers may increase to detectable levels during exacerbations of chronic hepatitis B.5,6 Tests for detecting anti‑HBc IgM antibodies are used, in conjunction with HBsAg determinations, to identify acute hepatitis B.