Asian Scientist (10.30.2013)
Aids Weekly Plus
An article in the Asian Scientist reported a study on a mutation in the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that is found only in men. A team of Korean researchers identified an HBV mutation seen only in men that they believed explained why HBV-infected men are five times more likely than HBV-infected women to develop liver cancer. The researchers noted that some women develop cirrhosis and liver cancer, but this mutation was not present in women with HBV.
Previous studies had suggested that the gene mutation, called W4P/R, was associated with higher incidence of liver cancer and cirrhosis. The researchers created an assay to identify HBV with the W4P/R mutation and used it to analyze serum samples from 292 individuals with chronic HBV infection who were patients at one of three Korean hospitals from 2003 to 2005. When they compared the presence of the W4P/R mutation with patient outcomes, they discovered a significant association between the mutation and severe liver disease, which was present only in male patients.
The researchers believe the assay may be useful as a diagnostic tool for predicting male progression to cirrhosis and liver cancer. They also acknowledge they need additional studies with a greater number of patients to confirm the findings.
The full report, “Male Specific W4P/R preS1 Mutation of Hepatitis B Virus Increasing the Risk for the Progression of Liver Diseases of Chronic Patients,” was published online in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2013; doi:10.1128/JCM.01505-13).