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J Clin Virol. 2007 Jul;39(3):199-204. Epub 2007 May 29.

Presence of hepatitis B virus core promoter mutations pre-seroconversion predict persistent viral replication after HBeAg loss.

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  • 1Centre for Virology, Department of Infection, University College, Windeyer Building, 46 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JF, United Kingdom.



In patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection DNA levels do not always fall after anti-hepatitis B e (anti-HBe) seroconversion.


To follow longitudinally through HB e antigen (HBeAg) loss HBV DNA levels and core promoter/precore sequences in a cohort of 21 chronic HBV carriers.


Treatment-naïve HBeAg seropositive HBV carriers were monitored through HBeAg loss for between 2 and 22 years (mean 9.3). Core promoter/precore sequences, genotypes, HBV DNA levels and HBe status were determined.


Patients were grouped into those in whom serum/plasma HBV DNA remained high after HBeAg loss (group 1, n=11; HBV DNA>5log(10)IU/ml) and those in whom HBV DNA declined (group 2, n=10). Re-appearance of HBeAg was seen in seven group 1 patients. Pre-seroconversion mutations in the core promoter region including A1762T and/or G1764A were detected more frequently in group 1 (P=0.031). Overall sequence changes at sites other than 1762/1764 were more common post-seroconversion in group 1 than group 2 patients (P=0.037).


The presence of core promoter mutations prior to HBeAg loss identified those patients in whom HBV DNA persisted at high levels and was associated with temporary re-emergence of serum HBeAg. These patients may benefit from early anti-viral treatment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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