Background: To avoid false negative results, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) assays need to detect samples with mutations in the immunodominant 'a' determinant region, which vary by ethnographic region.
Objective: We evaluated the prevalence and type of HBsAg mutations in a hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected East- and Southeast Asian population, and the diagnostic performance of the Elecsys® HBsAg II Qualitative assay.
Study design: We analyzed 898 samples from patients with HBV infection from four sites (China [Beijing and Guangzhou], Korea and Vietnam). HBsAg mutations were detected and sequenced using highly sensitive ultra-deep sequencing and compared between the first (amino acids 124-137) and second (amino acids 139-147) loops of the 'a' determinant region using the Elecsys® HBsAg II Qualitative assay.
Results: Overall, 237 distinct amino acid mutations in the major hydrophilic region were identified; mutations were present in 660 of 898 HBV-infected patient samples (73.5%). Within the pool of 237 distinct mutations, the majority of the amino acid mutations were found in HBV genotype C (64.8%). We identified 25 previously unknown distinct mutations, mostly prevalent in genotype C-infected Korean patients (n = 18) followed by Chinese (n = 12) patients. All 898 samples were correctly identified by the Elecsys® HBsAg II Qualitative assay.
Conclusions: We observed 237 distinct (including 25 novel) mutations, demonstrating the complexity of HBsAg variants in HBV-infected East- and Southeast Asian patients. The Elecsys® HBsAg II Qualitative assay can reliably detect HBV-positive samples and is suitable for routine diagnostic use in East and Southeast Asia.
Keywords: Detection; HBsAg mutations; Hepatitis B; Immunoassay; Immunodominant ‘a’ determinant region; Screening.
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