Presence of drug-resistance mutations in drug-naïve hepatitis B virus (HBV) infected patients can seriously compromise response to antiviral treatment. Therefore, our study was aimed at defining the prevalence of HBV drug-resistance in a population of 140 patients, all infected with HBV-D-genotype (the most common HBV-genotype in Eastern Europe, Mediterranean countries and Middle East) and naïve to antiviral therapy. HBV reverse-transcriptase (RT) region was sequenced and analyzed for 20 mutations, confirmed by in vitro studies as associated with resistance to nucleos(t)ide HBV-RT inhibitors (rtL80I/V-rtI169T-rtV173L-rtL180M-rtA181T/V/S-rtT184A/S/G/C-rtA194T-rtS202C/G/I-rtM204V/I-rtN236T-rtM250V). Amino acid changes at other six RT positions, potentially associated with resistance, were also analyzed (rtV84M-rtV191I-rtV207L-rtV214A-rtQ215S-rtI233V). Overall, only 2/140 (1.4%) patients carried primary drug-resistance mutations [rtA181V (0.7%), and rtA194T (0.7%)], while 3/140 (2.1%) patients harbored the secondary mutations rtV173L (1.4%) and rtL180M (0.7%). Additionally, five polymorphic mutations, with a suggested role in drug resistance, were detected [rtQ215S (12.8%), rtI233V (4.3%), rtV214A (3.6%), rtV191I (0.7%), rtV207L (0.7%)]. Notably, no YMDD mutations, namely rtM204V/I, were found. Taken together, the rate of important drug resistance mutations in naïve HBV D-genotype infected patients is today very low, and suggests the potential full efficacy of new-generation antiviral drugs used in first line therapy. Whether such low rate can be extrapolated to non HBV-D subtypes, requires a detailed investigation to be performed in a different cohort of patients.
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