Antiviral therapy

Naturally occurring deletions/insertions in HBV core promoter tend to decrease in hepatitis B e antigen-positive chronic hepatitis B patients during antiviral therapy.

PMID 25838313


Mutations in HBV core promoter (CP) are suggested to affect viral replication and disease progression. We investigated CP deletion/insertion mutations (Del/Ins) in hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients before and during antiviral treatment. Direct and clone sequencings were used for detection of CP Del/Ins in 12 patients. The dynamic changes of CP Del/Ins were tracked in these cases until week 48 of treatment. The effects of Del/Ins on CP activities and hepatitis B X protein (HBx) were analysed using luciferase assay and sequence comparison, respectively. Furthermore, 292 untreated HBeAg-positive CHB cases were also analysed. Twelve cases with multi-peak PCR direct sequencing electropherograms at baseline were confirmed to have CP Del/Ins by clone sequencing, with detection rates varying from 14.8% to 93.3% of clones analysed. Follow-up studies showed the detection rates of CP Del/Ins in patients decreased from 100% (12/12) at baseline to 16.7% (2/12) at week 48 of treatment (P<0.001), in parallel with a decline in HBV DNA, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) levels along with an increase in HBeAg loss. Luciferase assay results showed distinct promoter activities among Del/Ins-harbouring CP sequences. Importantly, 71.8% (148/206) of Del/Ins sequences potentially resulted in HBx carboxy-terminal truncations. CP Del/Ins mutations were also found in 27.4% (80/292) of untreated cases. Naturally occurring complex of CP Del/Ins mutants existed in untreated HBeAg-positive CHB patients. These mutations would affect HBV transcription activities and integrity of HBx, which might correlate with disease progression. Their prevalence decreases on antiviral therapy in parallel with the decline in HBV DNA, HBsAg and ALT and AST levels.