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J Gastroenterol. 2007 Apr;42(4):298-305. Epub 2007 Apr 26.

A weak association between occult HBV infection and non-B non-C hepatocellular carcinoma in Japan.

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Department of Clinical Molecular Informative Medicine, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kawasumi, Mizuho, Nagoya, Aichi, 467-8601, Japan.



In Japan, approximately 10% of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients are negative for both hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibodies to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV), i.e., they constitute the so-called category of non-B non-C (NBNC) HCC. Little is known about the characteristics of NBNC-HCC.


Potential risk factors for carcinogenesis (including occult HBV infection [HBsAg is negative but HBV DNA is positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)], obesity, and diabetes) were assessed in 233 HCC patients grouped according to hepatitis virus serological status (152 with HCV-HCC, 36 with HBV-HCC, and 45 with NBNC-HCC).


The prevalence of patients with obesity or diabetes was significantly higher in the NBNC-HCC group than in the HBV-HCC group. The same trend was observed even when patients with massive alcohol intake were excluded from the analysis. Only 8 patients (18%) in the NBNC-HCC group had detectable serum HBV DNA, and this was at very low levels (HBV/Ce/C2 and HBV/D were determined in 7 and 1 patients, respectively). In the NBNC-HCC group, the determined nucleotide sequences of the enhancer II/core promoter/precore/core region did not contain any HCC-associated mutations, whereas 25 of 30 patients in the HBV-HCC group carried strains with C1653T, T1753V, and/or A1762T/G1764A mutations.


A weak association between occult HBV infection and HCC development was observed in the NBNC patients. This study indicates that nonalcoholic steato-hepatitis should be further investigated to assess its contribution to HCC development in this category of patients.

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