Hyun Woong Lee is a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Chung-Ang University Hospital since 2016. He completed his MD from the Yonsei University of Korea in 1997, followed by a residency in internal medicine and a clinical fellowship in hepatology at Chung-Ang University Hospital. He completed his PhD in Medicine from the Yonsei University of Korea in 2008. He was an Assistant and Associate Professor of the Chung-Ang University of Korea from 2008 to 2016, and was a Visiting Scientist at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, from 2014 to 2015. He is a member of the Korean Association for the Study of the Liver (KASL) and  the Korean Liver Cancer Association (KLCA).


Background & Aim: Interleukin 6(IL-6) has a context-dependent pro- and anti-inflammatory properties. Here we evaluate the impact of IL-6 levels according to the natural history of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection.

Methods: Patients (n=71) with hepatitis B virus (HBV) were enrolled between September 2015 and April 2016. For the treatment naïve chronic HBV carries were recruited. We examined serum levels of IL-6, using cytometric bead array. We studied patients with inactive CHB phase (HBV DNA<1,000 copies/ml, anti-HBeAg+ and normal ALT, n=22), immune tolerant phase (HBV DNA>10,000 copies/ml, HBeAg+ and normal ALT, n=36), and immune active phase (elevated ALT and HBV DNA>10,000 copies/ml, n=13).

Results: Serum IL-6 levels in patients with immune active phase were significantly higher than patients with inactive CHB phase (IL-6: 1.815±803.2 vs. 267.3±245.6 pg/mL) (p<0.001). IL-6 levels in patients with immune active phase were significantly higher than patients with immune tolerant phase (IL-6: 1.815±803.2 vs. 620.2±207.8 pg/mL) (p<0.001). Serum IL-6 level was significantly higher in patients with immune active phase compared with immune tolerant phase and inactive CHB phase (Kruskal-Wallis test, p<0.0017).

Conclusions: We found the impact of IL-6 levels to activate immune system as pro-inflammatory properties in patients with CHB infection.


  1. Lee HW, Lee SH, Lee MG, Ahn SH, Chang HY, Han KH. The clinical implication of single nucleotide polymorphisms in deoxycytidine kinase in chronic hepatitis B patients treated with lamivudine. J Med Virol. 2016 May;88(5):820-7. doi: 10.1002/jmv.24393.
  2. Lee HW, Kwon JC, Oh IS, Chang HY, Cha YJ, Choi IS, Kim HJ. Prolonged entecavir therapy is not effective for HBeAg seroconversion in treatment-naive chronic hepatitis B patients with a partial virological response. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2015 Sep;59(9):5348-56.
  3. Choi YS, Lee J, Lee HW, Chang DY, Sung PS, Jung MK, Park JY, Kim JK, Lee JI, Park H, Cheong JY, Suh KS, Kim HJ, Lee JS, Kim KA, Shin EC. Liver injury in acute hepatitis A is associated with decreased frequency of regulatory T cells caused by Fas-mediated apoptosis. Gut. 2015 Aug;64(8):1303-13.
  4. Lee HW, Chang HY, Yang SY, Kim HJ. Viral evolutionary changes during tenofovir treatment in a chronic hepatitis B patient with sequential nucleos(t)ide therapy. J Clin Virol. 2014 Jul;60(3):313-6.
  5. Hong S, Lee HW, Chang DY, You S, Kim J, Park JY, Ahn SH, Yong D, Han KH, Yoo OJ, Shin EC. Antibody-secreting cells with a phenotype of Ki-67low, CD138high, CD31high, and CD38high secrete nonspecific IgM during primary hepatitis A virus infection. J Immunol. 2013 Jul 1;191(1):127-34.