Background & aims: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) isolates of genotype B (HBV/B) with or without the recombination with genotype C over the precore region plus core gene have been reported.
Methods: All the 41 HBV/B isolates having the recombination with genotype C (HBV/Ba) possessed the nucleotide 1838 of A in contrast to that of G in all 29 of those without the recombination (HBV/Bj). Taking advantage of this single nucleotide polymorphism, a restriction fragment length polymorphism method was developed that distinguished HBV/Ba from HBV/Bj.
Results: HBV/Bj was detected in 90 of the 97 (93%) carriers of HBV/B from Japan, whereas HBV/Ba occurred in all 177 carriers of HBV/B from other countries (China, 20; Hong Kong, 45; Taiwan, 32; Thailand, 30; Vietnam, 30; and the United States, 20 [all of an Asian ethnicity]). In a case-control study, hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and the double mutation in the core promoter (T1762/A1764) were significantly more frequent in 80 carriers each of HBV/Ba than HBV/Bj (35% vs. 18%, P < 0.05 and 33% vs. 15%, P < 0.05, respectively). Differences in the prevalence of HBeAg were more conspicuous between the carriers of HBV/Bj and HBV/Ba older than 30 years (5 of 66 or 8% vs. 16 of 62 or 26%, P < 0.01).
Conclusions: HBV/B having the recombination with genotype C is frequent in Asia, except in Japan, and HBeAg is more prevalent in carriers of HBV/Ba than HBV/Bj.