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J Viral Hepat. 2005 Mar;12(2):160-7.

Low frequency of mutations in the X gene, core promoter and precore region of hepatitis B virus infected Vietnamese.

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1
Department of Molecular Pathology, Institute of Pathology, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.

Abstract

Numerous mutations in the hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome have been described, but in most cases their role in the pathogenesis of HBV infection is still unclear. Therefore, we analysed specific mutations in HBV-infected Vietnamese patients and assessed their potential relationship with their clinical outcome. A total of 153 HBV-infected Vietnamese patients with well-characterised clinical profiles were enrolled. None of the study participants had a history of alcohol or drug use and none received any antiviral or immunosuppressive therapy before or during the course of this study. The HBx- and core promoter regions were analysed by sequencing. The majority of isolates corresponded to genotype A. The presence of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) was associated with significantly higher viral loads in the chronic HBV-infection group (P = 0.026). Double mutations in the core promoter (1762/1764) were more frequent in those with cancer than in noncancer patients (P < 0.01). Mutations at nucleotide (nt) 1766/1773 were found at low prevalence but with no obvious association to clinical presentation. Cytosine at nt 1858 was predominant but the stop codon mutation in the precore region was not detected. In the study, 4/48 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients revealed truncated HBx, whilst the serine to alanine mutation (codon 31) of HBx was more prevalent in cancer patients than in asymptomatic HBV carriers (P < 0.01). Thus, the low frequency of mutations indicates the relation of the absence of antiviral pressure in this population. The exclusively found prevalence of certain mutations detected in those with HBV-related carcinoma nevertheless indicates a degree of association with disease progression.

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