Hepatitis B virus with X gene mutation is associated with the majority of serologically "silent" non-b, non-c chronic hepatitis

Microbiol Immunol. 1996;40(7):481-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1348-0421.1996.tb01098.x.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) with X gene mutations has been a putative pathogen of chronic hepatitis without serological markers of known hepatitis viruses. The aim of this study was to reconfirm whether the HBV with the X gene mutation is associated with these serologically "silent" non-B, non-C (NBNC) chronic hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). HBV DNA was amplified from serum and sequenced in 30 patients with NBNC chronic hepatitis in comparison with 20 patients with ALD and 5 patients with AIH. HBV DNA was identified in 21 patients (70%) in NBNC chronic hepatitis by nested polymerase chain reaction while only one patient (5%) in ALD and none in AIH showed HBV DNA. Eighteen (85.7%) of the 21 identified HBV DNAs had an identical 8-nucleotide deletion mutation at the distal part of the X region. This mutation affected the core promoter and the enhancer II sequence of HBV DNA and created a translational stop codon which truncated the X protein by 20 amino acids from the C-terminal end. All the HBV DNAs had a precore mutation at the 83rd nucleotide resulting in disruption of HBe antigen synthesis. These results indicate that HBV mutants are closely associated with the majority of serologically "silent" NBNC chronic hepatitis cases and the population of such mutant HBV DNAs is not uniform.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Viral / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / virology
  • Base Sequence
  • Chronic Disease
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • Genes, Viral*
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics*
  • Hepatitis, Alcoholic / etiology
  • Hepatitis, Alcoholic / virology
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins


  • Antigens, Viral
  • DNA, Viral
  • Trans-Activators
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins
  • hepatitis B virus X protein