1887

Abstract

Despite chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (CHB) being a leading cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer, HBV evolution during CHB is not fully understood. Recent studies have indicated that virus diversity progressively increases along the course of CHB and that some virus mutations correlate with severe liver conditions such as chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Using ultradeep sequencing (UDS) data from an intrafamilial case, we detected such mutations at low frequencies among three immunotolerant patients and at high frequencies in an inactive carrier. Furthermore, our analyses indicated that the HBV population from the seroconverter patient underwent many genetic changes in response to virus clearance. Together, these data indicate a potential use of UDS for developing non-invasive biomarkers for monitoring disease changes over time or in response to specific therapies. In addition, our analyses revealed that virus clearance seemed not to require the virus effective population size to decline. A detailed genetic analysis of the viral lineages arising during and after the clearance suggested that mutations at or close to critical elements of the core promoter (enhancer II, epsilon encapsidation signal, TA2, TA3 and direct repeat 1-hormone response element) might be responsible for a sustained replication. This hypothesis requires the decline in virus load to be explained by constant clearance of virus-producing hepatocytes, consistent with the sustained progress towards serious liver conditions experienced by many CHB patients.

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2016-02-01
2019-10-21
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