Circulating microRNAs as non-invasive biomarkers for hepatitis B virus liver fibrosis

World J Gastroenterol. 2020 Mar 21;26(11):1113-1127. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i11.1113.


Viruses can alter the expression of host microRNAs (MiRNA s) and modulate the immune response during a persistent infection. The dysregulation of host MiRNA s by hepatitis B virus (HBV) contributes to the proinflammatory and profibrotic changes within the liver. Multiple studies have documented the differential regulation of intracellular and circulating MiRNA s during different stages of HBV infection. Circulating MiRNA s found in plasma and/or extracellular vesicles can integrate data on viral-host interactions and on the associated liver injury. Hence, the detection of circulating MiRNA s in chronic HBV hepatitis could offer a promising alternative to liver biopsy, as their expression is associated with HBV replication, the progression of liver fibrosis, and the outcome of antiviral treatment. The current review explores the available data on miRNA involvement in HBV pathogenesis with an emphasis on their potential use as biomarkers for liver fibrosis.

Keywords: Extracellular vesicles; Hepatitis B virus; Hepatitis management; Liver fibrosis; MicroRNA; Non-invasive biomarkers; Noncoding RNA; Viral hepatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biopsy
  • Circulating MicroRNA / blood*
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Hepatitis B virus / pathogenicity*
  • Hepatitis B virus / physiology
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / blood
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / pathology*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / virology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / virology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnosis*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / prevention & control
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virus Replication / genetics


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Circulating MicroRNA