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Hepatology. 2017 Dec;66(6):2066-2077. doi: 10.1002/hep.29479. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

Epigenetic regulation of hepatitis B virus covalently closed circular DNA: Implications for epigenetic therapy against chronic hepatitis B.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection represents a significant public health burden worldwide. Although current therapeutics manage to control the disease progression, lifelong treatment and surveillance are required because drug resistance develops during treatment and reactivations frequently occur following medication cessation. Thus, the occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma is decreased, but not eliminated. One major reason for failure of HBV treatment is the inability to eradicate or inactivate the viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), which is a stable episomal form of the viral genome decorated with host histones and nonhistone proteins. Accumulating evidence suggests that epigenetic modifications of cccDNA contribute to viral replication and the outcome of chronic HBV infection. Here, we summarize current progress on HBV epigenetics research and the therapeutic implications for chronic HBV infection by learning from the epigenetic therapies for cancer and other viral diseases, which may open a new venue to cure chronic hepatitis B. (Hepatology 2017;66:2066-2077).

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