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Test ID: HBC Hepatitis B Core Total Antibodies, Serum

Reporting Name

HBc Total Ab, S

Useful For

Diagnosis of recent or past hepatitis B infection


Determination of occult hepatitis B infection in otherwise healthy hepatitis B virus carriers with negative test results for hepatitis B surface antigen, anti-hepatitis B surface, anti-hepatitis B core IgM, hepatitis Be antigen, and anti-hepatitis Be


This assay is not useful for differentiating among acute, chronic, and past or resolved hepatitis B infection


This test should not be used as a screening or confirmatory test for blood donor specimens.

Clinical Information

Hepatitis B core antibodies (HBcAb) appear shortly after the onset of symptoms of hepatitis B infection and soon after the appearance of HB surface antigen (HBsAg). Initially, HBcAb consist almost entirely of the IgM class, followed by appearance of HBc IgG for which there is no commercial diagnostic assay.


The HBc total antibodies test, which detects both IgM and IgG antibodies, and the test for HBc IgM antibodies may be the only markers of a recent hepatitis B infection detectable in the "window period." The window period begins with the clearance of HBsAg and ends with the appearance of antibodies to HBs antigen. HBc total antibodies may be the only serologic marker remaining years after exposure to hepatitis B.


This assay is US Food and Drug Administration-approved for in vitro diagnostic use and not for screening cell, tissue, and blood donors.


Negative hepatitis B core (HBc) total antibody (Ab) test results indicate the absence of exposure to hepatitis B virus and no evidence of recent, past/resolved, or chronic hepatitis B.


A positive result indicates acute, chronic, or past or resolved hepatitis B.


An inconclusive result suggests the presence of an interfering substance in the patient's serum specimen.


Positive HBc total Ab test results should be correlated with the presence of other hepatitis B virus serologic markers, elevated liver enzymes, clinical signs and symptoms, and a history of risk factors.


If clinically indicated, testing for HBIM / Hepatitis B Core Antibody, IgM, Serum is necessary to confirm an acute or recent infection.


Neonatal patients (<1 month old) with positive HBc total Ab results from this assay should be tested for anti-HBc IgM (HBIM / Hepatitis B Core Antibody, IgM, Serum) to rule out possible maternal HBcAb causing false-positive results. Repeat testing using this assay for HBc total Ab within 1 month is also recommended for these neonatal patients.

Report Available

Same day/1 to 3 days

Day(s) Performed

Monday through Saturday

Clinical Reference

1. Bonino F, Piratvisuth T, Brunetto MR, Liaw YF: Diagnostic markers of chronic hepatitis B infection and disease. Antivir Ther. 2010;15(3):35-44. doi: 10.3851/IMP1622

2. Badur S, Akgun A: Diagnosis of hepatitis B infections and monitoring of treatment. J Clin Virol. 2001 Jun;21(3):229-237. doi: 10.1016/s1386-6532(01)00147-0

3. Servoss JC, Friedman LS: Serologic and molecular diagnosis of hepatitis B virus. Clin Liver Dis. 2004 May;8(2):267-281. doi: 10.1016/j.cld.2004.02.001

4. LeFevre ML: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: Screening for hepatitis B virus infection in nonpregnant adolescents and adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Jul 1;161(1):58-66. doi: 10.7326/M14-1018

5. Jackson K, Locarnini S, Gish R: Diagnostics of hepatitis B virus: Standard of care and investigational. Clin Liver Dis. 2018 Aug 22;12(1):5-11. doi: 10.1002/cld.729

6. Coffin CS, Zhou K, Terrault NA: New and old biomarkers for diagnosis and management of chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Gastroenterology. 2019 Jan;156(2):355-368. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2018.11.037

7. WHO Guidelines Development Group: World Health Organization: Guidelines on hepatitis B and C testing. World Health Organization; 2017. Accessed July 8, 2021. Available at

8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Testing and public health management of persons with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. CDC; Updated March 28, 2022. Accessed September 9, 2022. Available at:

Method Name

Chemiluminescence Immunoassay (CIA)

Specimen Type

Serum SST

Ordering Guidance

This test should not be used to screen or test pregnant individuals who may or may not have risk factors for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. For testing such patients, order HBCPR / Hepatitis B Core Total Antibodies Prenatal, Serum.


This test should not be used to screen or test asymptomatic, non-pregnant individuals with or without risk factors for HBV. For testing such patients, order HBCSN / Hepatitis B Total Antibodies Screen, Serum.


If a hepatitis B core total antibody test that reflexes to hepatitis B core IgM is needed, order test CORAB / Hepatitis B Core Total Antibodies, with Reflex to Hepatitis B Core Antibody IgM, Serum.

Necessary Information

Date of collection is required.

Specimen Required

Collection Container/Tube: Serum gel

Submission Container/Tube: Plastic vial

Specimen Volume: 1 mL

Collection Instructions:

1. Centrifuge blood collection tube per collection tube manufacturer’s instructions (eg, centrifuge and aliquot within 2 hours of collection for BD Vacutainer tubes).

2. Transfer serum into plastic vial.

Specimen Minimum Volume

0.4 mL

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Serum SST Frozen (preferred) 28 days
  Refrigerated  7 days
  Ambient  24 hours

Reference Values


Interpretation depends on clinical setting.

See Viral Hepatitis Serologic Profiles

Test Classification

This test has been cleared, approved, or is exempt by the US Food and Drug Administration and is used per manufacturer's instructions. Performance characteristics were verified by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements.

CPT Code Information


LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
HBC HBc Total Ab, S 13952-7


Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
HBC HBc Total Ab, S 13952-7


If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send 1 of the following forms with the specimen:

-Gastroenterology and Hepatology Client Test Request (T728)

-Infectious Disease Serology Test Request (T916)

Mayo Clinic Laboratories | Microbiology and Infectious Disease Catalog Additional Information: