Virological analysis, genotypes and mutational patterns of the HBV precore/core gene in HBV/HCV-related hepatocellular carcinoma

M. S. De Mitri, R. Cassini, G. Morsica, S. Bagaglio, P. Andreone, E. Loggi, P. Muratori, M. Bernardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the replicative profile of hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) viruses and the mutational pattern of the HBV precore/core (pre-C/C) domain in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Thirty-eight consecutive patients with HCC were included in the study - 18 of them with HBV/HCV co-infection and 20 with HBV single infection. Twenty-three additional patients with co-infection, without HCC were recruited as the control group. Replication activity was evaluated by detecting and quantitating both HBV and HCV genomes. The HBV pre-C/C region, encompassing the pregenome encapsidation signal involved in viral replication, was analysed by direct sequencing. HBV viraemia levels were significantly lower (P = 0.04) in patients with co-infection in comparison with single-infected HCC, whereas two different HBV viraemia profiles were detected in co-infection with or without circulating HCV. HBV genotype D was prevalent in the three groups and HCV genotype 1b was found to be the infecting strain in all patients. Lower variability in the pre-C/C region was found in co-infection in comparison with HBV single infection (P = 0.0004). A synonymous T1936C mutation was found in all co-infected HCC cases not related to the presence or absence of circulating HCV, and a hypermutated pre-C strain, characterized by the same mutational pattern, was identified in three HCC cases. The mutational pattern of the pre-C/C region was closely related to HBV replication efficiency, and specific HBV mutations selectively associated with HCV co-infection could be linked with accelerated HBV/HCV-related disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-581
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Viral Hepatitis
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Precore

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Hepatology


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