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Hepatology. 2013 Nov;58(5):1610-20. doi: 10.1002/hep.26428. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Discovery of naturally occurring transmissible chronic hepatitis B virus infection among Macaca fascicularis from Mauritius Island.

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Université de Lyon, Lyon, France; INSERM U1052, Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Lyon, Lyon, France; CNRS UMR5286, Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Lyon, Lyon, France; Ecole pratique des hautes études, Paris, France.


Despite a high prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in endangered apes, no HBV infection has been reported in small, old-world monkeys. In search for a small, nonhuman primate model, we investigated the prevalence of HBV infection in 260 macaque (Cercopithecidae) sera of various geographical origins (i.e., Morocco, Mauritius Island, and Asia). HBV-positive markers were detected in cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) from Mauritius Island only, and, remarkably, HBV DNA was positive in 25.8% (31 of 120) and 42% (21 of 50) of serum and liver samples, respectively. Strong liver expression of hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B core antigen was detected in approximately 20%-30% of hepatocytes. Furthermore, chronic infection with persisting HBV DNA was documented in all 6 infected macaques during an 8-month follow-up period. Whole HBV genome-sequencing data revealed that it was genotype D subtype ayw3 carrying substitution in position 67 of preS1. To confirm infectivity of this isolate, 3 Macaca sylvanus were inoculated with a pool of M. fascicularis serum and developed an acute HBV infection with 100% sequence homology, compared with HBV inoculum. We demonstrated the presence of a chronic HBV infection in M. fascicularis from Mauritius Island. This closely human-related HBV might have been transmitted from humans, because the initial breeding colony originated from very few ancestors 300 years ago when it was implemented by Portuguese who imported a handful of macaques from Java to Mauritius Island.


This report on natural, persisting HBV infection among cynomolgus macaques provides the first evidence for the existence of a novel, small simian model of chronic HBV infection, immunologically close to humans, that should be most valuable for the study of immunotherapeutic approaches against chronic hepatitis B.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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