Viruses 2014, 6(4), 1590-1611; doi:10.3390/v6041590

Occult HBV Infection: A Faceless Enemy in Liver Cancer Development

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Received: 31 January 2014; in revised form: 13 March 2014 / Accepted: 20 March 2014 / Published: 8 April 2014
(This article belongs to the collection Current Threats and Findings in Virology)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: The hepatitis B virus (HBV) represents a worldwide public health problem; the virus is present in one third of the global population. However, this rate may in fact be higher due to occult hepatitis B virus infection (OBI). This condition is characterized by the presence of the viral genome in the liver of individuals sero-negative for the virus surface antigen (HBsAg). The causes of the absence of HBsAg in serum are unknown, however, mutations have been identified that produce variants not recognized by current immunoassays. Epigenetic and immunological host mechanisms also appear to be involved in HBsAg suppression. Current evidence suggests that OBI maintains its carcinogenic potential, favoring the progression of fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. In common with open HBV infection, OBI can contribute to the establishment of hepatocellular carcinoma. Epidemiological data regarding the global prevalence of OBI vary due to the use of detection methods of different sensitivity and specificity. In Latin America, which is considered an area of low prevalence for HBV, diagnostic screening methods using gene amplification tests for confirmation of OBI are not conducted. This prevents determination of the actual prevalence of OBI, highlighting the need for the implementation of cutting edge technology in epidemiological surveillance systems.
Keywords: occult hepatitis B infection; hepatocellular carcinoma; hepatitis B virus
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MDPI and ACS Style

Morales-Romero, J.; Vargas, G.; García-Román, R. Occult HBV Infection: A Faceless Enemy in Liver Cancer Development. Viruses 2014, 6, 1590-1611.

AMA Style

Morales-Romero J, Vargas G, García-Román R. Occult HBV Infection: A Faceless Enemy in Liver Cancer Development. Viruses. 2014; 6(4):1590-1611.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Morales-Romero, Jaime; Vargas, Gustavo; García-Román, Rebeca. 2014. "Occult HBV Infection: A Faceless Enemy in Liver Cancer Development." Viruses 6, no. 4: 1590-1611.

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