Immunological studies were performed on Ugandan patients with hepatocellular carcinoma to test the hypothesis that the high rate of persistence of hepatitis-associated antigen in these patients is the result of defects in host immune response. The responses to 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene sensitization and to a battery of recall skin test antigens were normal, as was the humoral antibody response to tularaemia antigen. Neither hypogammaglobulinaemia nor specific immunoglobulin deficiencies were found. Thus it appears unlikely that generalized defects in host immune responses can account for the high incidence of persistent hepatitis B virus infection found in Ugandan patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
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