Residual hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA can be detected following the resolution of acute HBV infection. Our previous work using duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) infected ducks, indicated that ~80% of residual DHBV DNA in the liver is in the covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) form, suggesting that viral DNA synthesis is suppressed. The current study asked more directly if maintenance of residual DHBV cccDNA is dependent upon ongoing viral DNA synthesis. Ducks that recovered from acute DHBV infection were divided into 2 groups and treated with the antiviral drug, Entecavir (ETV), or placebo. No major differences in the stability of cccDNA or levels of residual cccDNA were observed in liver biopsy tissues taken 95 days apart from ETV treated and placebo control ducks. The data suggest that residual DHBV cccDNA is highly stable and present in a cell population with a rate of turnover similar to normal, uninfected hepatocytes.
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