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J Hepatol. 2000 Sep;33(3):430-9.

Rapid detection of genotypes and mutations in the pre-core promoter and the pre-core region of hepatitis B virus genome: correlation with viral persistence and disease severity.

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Liver Unit, Hôtel-Dieu, Lyon, France.



We aimed to clarify the clinical relevance of hepatitis B virus pre-core mutant detection in patients with chronic hepatitis B using a newly developed assay.


Viral genotypes and pre-core mutations were studied in relation to viral persistence and liver disease severity using INNO-LiPA methodology. The study group included 151 patients with chronic hepatitis B, 85 positive for HBeAg (group I) and 66 positive for anti-HBe (group II).


The prevalence of viral genotypes in group I was: 64% A, 1% B, 15% C, 19% D, 0% E, 0% F and in group II: 39% A, 0% B, 2% C, 56% D, 2% E, 2% F (p<0.001). The prevalence of mutations at pre-core codon 28 (M2) was lower in group I (5%) than in group II (64%) (p<0.001). The prevalence of pre-core promoter mutations was also lower in group I (21%) than in group II (61%) (p<0.001). M2 mutations were more frequently detected in genotype D than in genotype A (p<0.001), while the other mutations were not influenced by viral genotype. Serum HBV DNA levels were significantly lower in group II versus group I (p<0.001), and in patients with any of the pre-core mutations versus wild-type sequence (p<0.01). Although cirrhosis was more frequent in group II (37%) versus group I (22%) and in patients with either one of the pre-core mutation (31%) versus wild-type sequence (25%), there was no statistical difference in liver severity assessed by ALT levels and Knodell score.


Pre-core mutants, whose molecular pattern is strongly dependent on viral genotypes, are associated with viral persistence in anti-HBe positive patients with ongoing chronic hepatitis B. The availability of this rapid assay should allow a precise monitoring of viral pre-core mutants during the course of chronic hepatitis B.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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