Frequency of infection by hepatitis B virus and its surface mutants in a northern Indian population

Singh, Harjeet ; Aggarwal, Rakesh ; Singh, R. L. ; Naik, S. R. ; Naik, Sita (2003) Frequency of infection by hepatitis B virus and its surface mutants in a northern Indian population Indian Journal of Gastroenterology, 22 (4). pp. 132-137. ISSN 0254-8860

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Introduction: The reported prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the Indian general population varies from 2% to 11%. Epidemiological studies conducted so far have selection biases, since these included populations of defined age group, gender, social class, high-risk group, etc. The present study was designed to look for the molecular epidemiology of HBV infection in the rural and urban general populations in India. Methods: Sera obtained from healthy volunteers during college and social service camps from parts of northern India were tested for HBsAg and anti-HBc using enzyme immunoassays and for HBV DNA using polymerase chain reaction and Southern blot hybridization. The amplification products were cloned and sequenced, and nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of the surface and polymerase genes were analyzed for mutations. Results: Of the 730 subjects (rural 543, urban 187), 15 (2.1%) tested positive for HBsAg and 143 (19.5%) for anti-HBc; 10 were positive for both. The overall HBV exposure rate in the population was 20.3% (148/730). The HBsAg carrier rate was similar in the urban and rural populations (1.5% and 2.3%; p=ns), and anti-HBc positivity was lower in the urban population (8.5% vs. 23.3%; p<0.01). History of parenteral interventions or blood transfusion was associated with markers of exposure to HBV (10.2% vs. 4.6%; p=0.01). Among the 220 representative samples tested for HBV DNA, 14 (6.4%) were positive; of these, only four were positive for HBsAg or anti-HBc. Sequencing of a 388-nt segment of the S-gene from three individuals (two adw and one ayw subtype) revealed four mutations. Two and three of these led to amino acid changes in the HBV surface and polymerase genes, respectively; alterations in known cytotoxic T cell epitopes of HBV surface and polymerase proteins were observed in one individual each. None had the G587A mutation, which is known to be associated with loss of the 'a' determinant of HBsAg. Conclusion: Our study shows a high frequency of exposure to HBV infection in the Indian general population; a proportion of HBV infected persons were detectable only by molecular methods. The positivity rate was higher in the rural population.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to Indian Society of Gastroenterology.
Keywords:Epidemiology; Variants
ID Code:94907
Deposited On:11 Oct 2012 11:53
Last Modified:11 Oct 2012 11:53

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