Worldwide genetic diversity of HBV genotypes and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma

Cancer Lett. 2009 Dec 1;286(1):80-8. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.07.013. Epub 2009 Aug 14.


Hepatitis B viruses (HBV) are responsible for over 50% of the worldwide attributable risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and this figure increases even further in regions of high endemicity. Systematic sequencing of HBV genomes has identified that this common virus existed as eight distinct genotypes (denoted A-H), each regrouping variants with less than 8% divergence in their DNA sequence. These genotypes differ by their geographic distribution in populations around the globe. There is evidence that HBV genotypes also differ by their pathogenic properties, including their risk of persistence as chronic infection and their capacity to induce precursor disease or cancer. On the other hand, HBV genes may undergo mutations that become selected during the course of chronic infection and progressive liver disease. The most significant of these mutations in the context of HCC are those occurring in the pre-core (Pre-C) and basal core promoter (BCP) regions. These mutations may upregulate HBV expression and increase its virulence. These mutations may occur in all HBV genotypes but are more common in genotypes associated with more severe disease and cancer, in particular genotype C. Understanding the molecular basis of pathological variations between HBV variants is critical for prediction of disease severity. It will also be important to determine whether differences among genotypes may have an impact on the long-term protective efficacy of universal HBV vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome, Viral
  • Genotype
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology*
  • Mutation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Risk Factors