The tumorigenesis of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been widely studied. HBV envelope proteins are important for the structure and life cycle of HBV, and these proteins are useful for judging the natural disease course and guiding treatment. Truncated and mutated preS/S are produced by integrated viral sequences that are defective for replication. The preS/S mutants are considered "precursor lesions" of HCC. Different preS/S mutants induce various mechanisms of tumorigenesis, such as transactivation of transcription factors and an immune inflammatory response, thereby contributing to HCC. The preS2 mutants and type II "Ground Glass" hepatocytes represent novel biomarkers of HBV-associated HCC. The preS mutants may induce the unfolded protein response and endoplasmic reticulum stress-dependent and stress-independent pathways. Treatments to inhibit hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and damage secondary to HBsAg or the preS/S mutants include antivirals and antioxidants, such as silymarin, resveratrol, and glycyrrhizin acid. Methods for the prevention and treatment of HCC should be comprehensive.
Keywords: Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Hepatitis B surface protein; Hepatocellular carcinoma; PreS/S mutants; “Ground Glass” hepatocytes.