Abstract

Introduction: Mutation of the HBV precore gene prevents the production of HBeAg, which is an important target for immune responses. Distribution of this mutation varies along with frequency of HBV genotypes in accordance with geographic and ethnic variations. The general objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and characteristics of precore mutation in Iran and its correlation with genotypes of hepatitis B. 

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, viral DNA of 182 Iranian hepatitis B surface antigen positive patients who were admitted to Bandar Abbas Blood Transfusion Organization in 2012 and 2013 was retrieved from their serum samples. HBeAg, anti-HBe, and anti-HBc IgM diagnostic tests were performed using ELISA kits. Precore and Pre-S regions were amplified using specific primers and PCR thereafter to determine the genotypes; precore mutation, PCR, and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) methods also were applied. SPSS version 12 was used for data analysis by Mann–Whitney U test, Fisher’s exact probability test, and t-test. 

Results: A total of 62 patients (34.1%) had precore mutation (A1896G), and genotype D was the predominant genotype in these patients, which was followed by an unknown genotype that was suspected for genotype B. Interestingly, the relationships between precore mutation and HBeAg (p=0.037) and genotype D (p=0.005) were significant; however, no correlation was observed between this mutation and acute or chronic hepatitis and sex of patients. 

Conclusion: This study found high prevalence of precore mutations in southern Iran, which was significantly associated with HBeAg and genotype D.

 

Keywords: Precore mutants; Genotypes; Hepatitis B; RFLP
 
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