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J Med Virol. 2012 Dec;84(12):1901-6. doi: 10.1002/jmv.23419.

Mutations in the major hydrophilic region (MHR) of hepatitis B virus genotype C in North China.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Youan Hospital, Capital University of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can evolve by mutations in the major hydrophilic region (MHR) of the HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) to permit its escape from neutralization by antibodies such as HBV surface antibody (anti-HBs) and from host immune responses. This study investigated the prevalence and pattern of MHR mutations in North China and the clinical correlations of these mutations. The MHRs of 161 HBsAg-positive patients were amplified using nested PCR, and directly sequenced to identify MHR mutations. It was showed that among the 161 patients infected with HBV genotype C in North China, the overall frequency of MHR mutation was 46.6%. Furthermore, MHR mutations were associated with high white blood cell counts (P = 0.025), high bilirubin levels (P = 0.048), and cirrhosis (P = 0.010). The most frequent mutations in patients with both HBsAg-positive and anti-HBs-positive were located in subregion 1 and 3 of MHR, specifically, residue Q101 (29.9%) and I126 (70.6%), which was different from the mutation pattern found in Western Europe and the United States. Taken together, these data indicated important virological and clinical aspects of HBV evolution in terms of the surface gene of genotype C, which might be important for its response to the currently available HBV vaccine.

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