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J Infect Dis. 2002 Nov 1;186(9):1335-8. Epub 2002 Oct 11.

Relationship between the development of precore and core promoter mutations and hepatitis B e antigen seroconversion in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus.

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Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.


Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (332 with and 44 without cirrhosis-related complications) were studied. Fifty percent of patients <30 years old had precore mutations. The prevalence of precore mutations among hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive patients, although lower than that among anti-HBe-positive patients (P=.031), was already high (44.2%). Median HBV DNA level in anti-HBe-positive patients was 1.5 x 10(6)-1.55 x 10(6) copies/mL, irrespective of the presence or absence of precore mutations. There was no difference in the prevalence of precore mutations between patients with and without complications (P, not significant). However the prevalence of core promoter mutations was higher among patients with complications than among those without complications (90.5% vs. 69.3%, respectively; P=.003). In conclusion, precore mutations occurred in a large proportion of Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis B virus before HBeAg seroconversion. The development of complications was not related to precore mutations but was probably due to the persistence of significant viremia after HBeAg seroconversion.

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