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Genotypes and subtypes of hepatitis B virus in Thailand.

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Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University and Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand.


Hepatitis B virus exhibits considerable variability evident in its various antigenic subtypes, which complicates the characterization of epidemiological factors, particularly in areas endemic for hepatitis B. Our group investigated the genotypes and subtypes prevalent in Thailand employing nested PCR and sequencing of the a determinant, as well as the sub-determinants located on the S gene. The sera examined originated from a mixed range of HBV-infected individuals. The results were mostly consistent with those reported for Southeast Asia in that genotype C (54.4%) dominates over genotypes A (22.1%) and B1 (23.5%). Regarding the subtypes, we have exclusively found adw2 (45.6%) and adr (54.4%) as expected for this area, with one case of subtype adw representing the exception. While genotype and/or subtype of HBV do not predispose to clinical disease, they nevertheless may account for those few cases reported in which a mutation, particularly within the a determinant of the S gene, causes evasion of routine detection by commercial kits, particularly as long as the respective individuals remain asymptomatic carriers solely expressing anti-HBc.

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