Historically, hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been considered species specific and unable to infect baboons. Based on this premise, two patients with HBV end-stage liver disease underwent baboon liver xenotransplantation. To study whether baboons are susceptible to HBV infection, four baboons (two receiving immunosuppressive therapy) were inoculated with HBV. Animals were followed for 6 months: clinical examinations and biochemical studies were normal, hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B core antigen staining of biopsies was negative, and HBV serology remained negative. HBV polymerase chain reaction was transiently positive in one animal, which most likely reflects the initial inoculation. This pilot study corroborates historical evidence and beliefs that baboons are resistant to HBV.
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