Simple and reliable method to quantify the hepatitis B viral load and replicative capacity in liver tissue and blood leukocytes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: A functional cure of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) is feasible, but a clear view of the intrahepatic viral dynamics in each patient is needed. Intrahepatic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) is the stable form of the viral genome in infected cells, and represents the ideal marker of parenchymal colonization. Its relationships with easily accessible peripheral parameters need to be elucidated in order to avoid invasive procedures in patients. Objectives: The goal of this study was to design, set up, and validate a reliable and straightforward method for the quantification of the cccDNA and total DNA of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) in a variety of clinical samples. Patients and Methods: Clinical samples from a cohort of CHB patients, including liver biopsies in some, were collected for the analysis of intracellular HBV molecular markers using novel molecular assays. Results: A plasmid construct, including sequences from the HBV genome and from the human gene hTERT, was generated as an isomolar multi-standard for HBV quantitation and normalization to the cellular contents. The specificity of the real-time assay for the cccDNA was assessed using Dane particles isolated on a density gradient. A comparison of liver tissue from 6 untreated and 6 treated patients showed that the treatment deeply reduced the replicative capacity (total DNA/cccDNA), but had limited impact on the parenchymal colonization. The peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and granulocytes from the treated and untreated patients were also analyzed. Conclusions: A straightforward method for the quantification of intracellular HBV molecular parameters in clinical samples was developed and validated. The widespread use of such versatile assays could better define the prognosis of CHB, and allow a more rational approach to time-limited tailored treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28751
JournalHepatitis Monthly
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016


  • CccDNA
  • Granulocytes
  • HBV
  • Hepatitis
  • Liver biopsy
  • Replicative capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Infectious Diseases

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