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J Med Virol. 2014 May;86(5):745-57. doi: 10.1002/jmv.23864. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

Molecular characterization of hepatitis B virus (HBV) strains circulating in the northern coast of the Persian Gulf and its comparison with worldwide distribution of HBV subgenotype D1.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Laboratory of Clinical and Epidemiological Virology, Rega Institute for Medical Research, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Blood Transfusion Research Center, High Institute for Research and Education in Transfusion Medicine, Tehran, Iran.


Iran is a large country that covers the northern coast of the Persian Gulf. Iranian residents of this coastal region interact closely with people from neighboring countries because of historical and cultural relationships, as well as economic activities. In addition, the inhabitants of this border region have experienced several wars, which have affected public health infrastructures. This study characterized for the first time, the evolution of the full-length genome of HBV strains in asymptomatic carrier patients living in this particular region. In addition, this study was compared and complemented by a comprehensive evolutionary analysis of the worldwide geographical distribution of HBV subgenotype D1. Evolutionary analysis demonstrates that patients living in the northern coast of the Persian Gulf are mainly infected with HBV subgenotype D1, subtype ayw2. Specific mutations related to advanced liver disease were found more frequently in these strains compared to other strains isolated from asymptomatic carriers from other regions of Iran. This global comprehensive analysis showed that HBV subgenotype D1 strains have a worldwide distribution and that human mobility and immigration had a large impact on dispersal of HBV subgenotype D1, subtype ayw2 in Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Syria, and Turkey. In addition to association of subtype ayw2 with subgenotype D1, it was demonstrated that other HBV subtypes like adw2, ayw1, and ayw3 are associated with HBV subgenotype D1 in different regions of the world. This study also revealed a remarkable distribution of subgenotype D1, subtype ayw4 although this particular subtype is associated with subgenotype D4 of HBV in European countries.


Iran; Persian Gulf; full-length genome; hepatitis B virus; subgenotype; subtype

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