The aetiology of acute anterior uveitis (AAU) in the great majority of cases is unclear. Various infective agents have been postulated, however, as playing a direct or indirect part in the disease process, possibly via an immune-complex vasculitis. In an earlier study we concluded that, contrary to a previous report, hepatitis B virus (HBV) played only a small role, if any, in the pathogenesis of uveitis in Great Britain. Since we did not look for other markers of HBV infection other than hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), it is possible that some cases of recent HBV infection may have been missed. In the present study 49 patients with AAU were tested for markers of hepatitis B infection. Sera from all patients tested were found to be negative for HBsAg and for antibody to the HBV core (anti-HBc), excluding HBV as a significant cause of AAU in this country. Since the quest for an infective agent in AAU may remain unproductive, future research on the aetiopathogenesis of AAU should include the study of tissue 'vulnerability' and the local and systemic immunoregulatory factors which modulate inflammatory responses.
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