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Biomed Pharmacother. 1998;52(1):34-43.

Hepatitis B viruses and cancerogenesis.

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Unité de Recombinaison et Expression Génétique, INSERM U163, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a small, enveloped DNA virus which primarily infects liver cells and causes acute and persistent liver disease. Chronic HBV infection, frequently associated with cirrhosis and eventually hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), represents a major health problem in the world. HBV is the prototype member of the hepadnavirus family, which includes several related mammalian viruses also implicated in liver carcinogenesis in the host. Although epidemiological evidence has clearly linked HBV infection with HCC development, the precise role of the virus and the molecular mechanisms of liver cell transformation remain elusive. Here we discuss potential oncogenic strategies of HBV, ranging from indirect mechanisms related to chronic necroinflammatory disease and to the effects of viral gene products on cell proliferation and apoptosis, to direct insertional activation of cellular (onco)genes. Presently, vaccination of high risk populations represents a major way to prevent the development of HBV-related liver cancer.

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