In an attempt to define the virological profile of HBV in HCV co-infection, we analysed the viral load, the infecting genotype, and the mutational pattern of the HBV pre-core region (pre-C), which is involved in viral encapsidation and DNA replication. Eighty-six patients were studied: 32 with serological HBV/HCV-1b co-infection (group BC), 32 infected by HBV alone (group B), and 22 by HCV-1b alone (group C). Sequence analysis of the HBV pre-S and pre-C regions identified genotypes and mutational patterns. The HBV viral load was significantly lower in group BC than in group B (p <0.001), and the distribution of HBV pre-C mutations showed a higher prevalence of wild type in concomitant infection than in the control group (p <0.006). The predominant HBV infecting strain was genotype D in both the BC (96%) and B (87%) groups. No difference was observed in HCV viremia levels between the two groups, whereas in HBV/HCV infection, the low levels of circulating HBV were closely associated with the low degree of variability of pre-C domain (p = 0.005). In conclusion, in HBV/HCV infection, the virological pattern was characterised by the dominance of HCV associated with lower HBV replication capacity and decreased emergence of HBV pre-C variants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology