Clinical and Virological Aspects of Blood Donors Infected with Hepatitis B Virus Genotypes B and C


American Society for Microbiology


Pathogenic and therapeutic differences among hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes have been documented. However, the association of virological characteristics with clinical differences among HBV genotypes remains unclear. We therefore studied the clinical and virological characteristics of Taiwanese volunteer blood donors infected with HBV genotypes B and C. HBV genotypes were determined in 300 candidate blood donors positive for HBV surface antigen (HBsAg), and sequences of the precore gene of the HBV genome were determined in 50 HBV e antigen (HBeAg)-positive and 50 HBeAg-negative blood donors. Of 300 HBsAg-positive blood donors, 10% had elevated serum aminotransferase levels and 27% were positive for HBeAg. HBV genotype distribution in 264 viremic carriers was as follows: B, 221 (83.7%); C, 39 (14.8%); F, 1 (0.4%); and mixed infection, 3 (1.1%). Blood donors with genotype C infection tended to have a higher frequency of HBeAg positivity and a higher serum HBV DNA level than those with genotype B infection. The frequency of precore stop codon mutation was significantly higher in HBeAg-negative blood donors than HBeAg-positive ones, irrespective of HBV genotypes. Meanwhile, only 5% of blood donors with genotype C infection had C-1858 strains. In conclusion, mixed infection of HBV genotypes indeed occurs, and genotype C has a higher serum HBV DNA level than genotype B. Precore stop codon mutation is common in HBeAg-negative HBV carriers, irrespective of HBV genotypes. In contrast, precore C-1858 strains are rarely identified in Taiwanese HBV genotype C.

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