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Special Issue "Viral Hepatitis Research"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2015).

Special Issue Editor

Assoc. Prof. Tatsuo Kanda

Guest Editor
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine; Nihon University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
Interests: viral hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, innate immunity, unfolded protein response
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Special Issue, “Viral Hepatitis Research”, of the International Journal of Molecular Biology. Hepatitis A virus (HAV), HBV, HCV, HDV, and HEV cause acute hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and/or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). All still present important health issues worldwide. Although effective vaccines or drugs, such as direct acting antivirals against HCV, have been developed for HAV and HBV or HBV and HCV infection, respectively, a lot of issues still exist in clinical practice and basic research areas. This Special Issue will present the latest findings related to viral hepatitis and the associated HCC. Original research and review articles on all topics concerning viral hepatitis research in health and disease are invited. It is my greatest pleasure to invite research scientists and clinicians from all relevant fields to submit their articles for this timely Special Issue. Please accept my special thanks for choosing to publish in the International Journal of Molecular Biology. I look forward to your submissions for this highly important Special Issue.

Dr. Tatsuo Kanda
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


Keywords

  • acute hepatitis
  • HAV
  • HBV
  • HCC
  • HCV
  • HEV
  • liver fibrosis

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Published Papers (24 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
A Protease Inhibitor with Induction Therapy with Natural Interferon-β in Patients with HCV Genotype 1b Infection
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17(3), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms17030350 - 09 Mar 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
The restoration of innate immune responses has potential as a novel therapeutic strategy for chronic hepatitis C (CHC). We compared the efficacy and safety of induction therapy (IT) with natural interferon-β (n-IFN-β) followed by pegylated-IFN-α/ribavirin (PR) alone (group A, n = 30) and [...] Read more.
The restoration of innate immune responses has potential as a novel therapeutic strategy for chronic hepatitis C (CHC). We compared the efficacy and safety of induction therapy (IT) with natural interferon-β (n-IFN-β) followed by pegylated-IFN-α/ribavirin (PR) alone (group A, n = 30) and IT with a protease inhibitor (PI) (simeprevir or vaniprevir)/PR (group B, n = 13) in CHC patients with genotype 1b and high viral loads. During IT with nIFN-β, virologic response rates in group A and group B were 10% and 8% (p = 0.6792) at week 4, 30% and 16% (p = 0.6989) at week 12 and 47% and 20% (p = 0.0887) at week 24 respectively. During and after the treatment with PR alone or PI/PR, virologic response rates in groups A and B were 50% and 82% (p = 0.01535) at week 4, 53% and 91% (p = 0.006745) at week 8, 57% and 91% (p = 0.001126) at week 12, 57% and 100% (p < 0.001845) at the end of the treatment and 57% and 80% (p < 0.005166) after treatment cessation. IT with PI/PR linked to the restoration of innate immune response was tolerated well, overcame virological breakthrough, enhanced early virologic responses, and resulted in a sustained virologic response in difficult-to-treat CHC patients. IT with PI/PR is beneficial for treating difficult-to-treat CHC patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 1b Core and NS5A Mutations on Response to Peginterferon Plus Ribavirin Combination Therapy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(9), 21177-21190; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160921177 - 07 Sep 2015
Cited by 2
Abstract
We examined whether hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1b core- and NS5A-region mutations are associated with response to peginterferon α-2b plus ribavirin combination therapy. A total of 103 patients with high HCV genotype 1b viral loads (≥100 KIU/mL) were treated with the combination [...] Read more.
We examined whether hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1b core- and NS5A-region mutations are associated with response to peginterferon α-2b plus ribavirin combination therapy. A total of 103 patients with high HCV genotype 1b viral loads (≥100 KIU/mL) were treated with the combination therapy. Pretreatment mutations in the core region and interferon sensitivity determining region (ISDR) in the NS5A region were analyzed. In univariate analysis, arginine and leucine at positions 70 and 91 in the core region, defined as double wild (DW)-type, were associated with early virologic response (p = 0.002), sustained virologic response (SVR) (p = 0.004), and non-response (p = 0.005). Non-threonine at position 110 was associated with SVR (p = 0.004). Multivariate analysis showed the following pretreatment predictors of SVR: hemoglobin level ≥ 14 g/dL (odds ratio (OR) 6.2, p = 0.04); platelet count ≥ 14 × 104/mm3 (OR 5.2, p = 0.04); aspartate aminotransferase (AST)/alanine aminotransferase (ALT) ratio < 0.9 (OR 6.17, p = 0.009); DW-type (OR 6.8, p = 0.02); non-threonine at position 110 (OR 14.5, p = 0.03); and ≥2 mutations in the ISDR (OR 12.3, p = 0.02). Patients with non-DW-type, non-threonine at position 110, and <2 ISDR mutations showed significantly lower SVR rates than others (11/45 (24.4%) vs. 27/37 (73.0%), respectively; p < 0.001). SVR can be predicted through core and NS5A region mutations and host factors like hemoglobin, platelet count, and AST/ALT ratio in HCV genotype 1b-infected patients treated with peginterferon and ribavirin combination therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 1b Infection on Triglyceride Concentration in Serum Lipoprotein Fractions
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(9), 20576-20594; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160920576 - 31 Aug 2015
Cited by 11
Abstract
Reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level is a characteristic feature of dyslipidemia in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, abnormality in serum triglyceride (TG) has not been fully investigated. To clarify the impact of HCV genotype 1b (G1b) infection and advanced fibrosis [...] Read more.
Reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level is a characteristic feature of dyslipidemia in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, abnormality in serum triglyceride (TG) has not been fully investigated. To clarify the impact of HCV genotype 1b (G1b) infection and advanced fibrosis on serum TG profiles, TG concentrations in lipoprotein fractions were examined in fasting sera from 185 subjects with active or cleared HCV infection by high-performance liquid chromatography. Serum lipoproteins were fractionated into four classes: chylomicron, very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), LDL, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Then, the significance of HCV G1b infection on TG levels in each lipoprotein fraction was determined using multiple regression models. We found that active HCV G1b infection was positively associated with high HDL-TG levels and low VLDL-TG levels, independent of other factors included in the regression model. In VLDL sub-fractions, active HCV infection was only found to be associated with low levels of large VLDL-TG. Similarly, advanced liver fibrosis in chronic HCV G1b infection was associated with high levels of LDL-TG, HDL-TG, and small VLDL-TG, independent of other clinical factors. These findings indicate that active HCV G1b infection and advanced fibrosis are closely associated with abnormal serum TG profiles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of Hydroxyanthraquinones as Novel Inhibitors of Hepatitis C Virus NS3 Helicase
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 18439-18453; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160818439 - 07 Aug 2015
Cited by 13
Abstract
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an important etiological agent of severe liver diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The HCV genome encodes nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) helicase, which is a potential anti-HCV drug target because its enzymatic activity is essential for viral replication. [...] Read more.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an important etiological agent of severe liver diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The HCV genome encodes nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) helicase, which is a potential anti-HCV drug target because its enzymatic activity is essential for viral replication. Some anthracyclines are known to be NS3 helicase inhibitors and have a hydroxyanthraquinone moiety in their structures; mitoxantrone, a hydroxyanthraquinone analogue, is also known to inhibit NS3 helicase. Therefore, we hypothesized that the hydroxyanthraquinone moiety alone could also inhibit NS3 helicase. Here, we performed a structure–activity relationship study on a series of hydroxyanthraquinones by using a fluorescence-based helicase assay. Hydroxyanthraquinones inhibited NS3 helicase with IC50 values in the micromolar range. The inhibitory activity varied depending on the number and position of the phenolic hydroxyl groups, and among different hydroxyanthraquinones examined, 1,4,5,8-tetrahydroxyanthraquinone strongly inhibited NS3 helicase with an IC50 value of 6 µM. Furthermore, hypericin and sennidin A, which both have two hydroxyanthraquinone-like moieties, were found to exert even stronger inhibition with IC50 values of 3 and 0.8 µM, respectively. These results indicate that the hydroxyanthraquinone moiety can inhibit NS3 helicase and suggest that several key chemical structures are important for the inhibition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Human Leukocyte Antigen Class II Alleles Are Associated with Hepatitis C Virus Natural Susceptibility in the Chinese Population
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 16792-16805; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160816792 - 23 Jul 2015
Cited by 6
Abstract
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecule influences host antigen presentation and anti-viral immune response. The aim of this study was to investigate whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within HLA class II gene were associated with different clinical outcomes of hepatitis C virus [...] Read more.
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecule influences host antigen presentation and anti-viral immune response. The aim of this study was to investigate whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within HLA class II gene were associated with different clinical outcomes of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Three HLA class II SNPs (rs3077, rs2395309 and rs2856718) were genotyped by TaqMan assay among Chinese population, including 350 persistent HCV infection patients, 194 spontaneous viral clearance subjects and 973 HCV-uninfected control subjects. After logistic regression analysis, the results indicated that the rs2856718 TC genotype was significantly associated with the protective effect of the HCV natural susceptibility (adjusted OR: 0.712, 95% CI: 0.554–0.914) when compared with reference TT genotype, and this remained significant after false discovery rate (FDR) correction (p = 0.024). Moreover, the protective effect of rs2856718 was observed in dominant genetic models (adjusted OR: 0.726, 95% CI: 0.574–0.920), and this remained significant after FDR correction (p = 0.024). In stratified analysis, a significant decreased risk was found in rs2856718C allele in the male subgroup (adjusted OR: 0.778, 95% CI: 0.627–0.966) and hemodialysis subgroup (adjusted OR: 0.713, 95% CI: 0.552–0.921). Our results indicated that the genetic variations of rs2856718 within the HLA-DQ gene are associated with the natural susceptibility to HCV infection among the Chinese population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
Open AccessArticle
Skeletal Muscle Depletion Predicts the Prognosis of Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma Treated with Sorafenib
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(5), 9612-9624; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms16059612 - 28 Apr 2015
Cited by 29
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine whether skeletal muscle depletion predicts the prognosis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that is being treated with sorafenib. We evaluated 40 consecutive HCC patients who received sorafenib treatment. The skeletal muscle cross-sectional area was [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine whether skeletal muscle depletion predicts the prognosis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that is being treated with sorafenib. We evaluated 40 consecutive HCC patients who received sorafenib treatment. The skeletal muscle cross-sectional area was measured by computed tomography at the third lumbar vertebra (L3), from which the L3 skeletal muscle index (L3 SMI) was obtained. The factors contributing to overall survival, sorafenib dose reduction, and discontinuation of sorafenib were analyzed using the Cox proportional hazards model. L3 SMI (p = 0.020) and log (α-fetoprotein (AFP)) (p = 0.010) were identified as independent prognostic factors in HCC patients treated with sorafenib. The initial dose of sorafenib (p = 0.008) was an independent risk factor for sorafenib dose reduction, and log (AFP) (p = 0.008) was the only significant risk factor for the discontinuation of this drug. L3 SMI was not a risk factor for either dose reduction (p = 0.423) or the discontinuation (p = 0.132) of sorafenib. A multiple linear regression analysis determined the following relationship between skeletal muscle mass (assessed as L3 SMI) and the explanatory factors: L3 SMI = −0.1896 × (Age) − 10.3441 × (Child-Pugh score) − 9.3922 × (log (AFP)) + 1.6139 × (log (AFP)) × (Child-Pugh score) + 112.9166. Skeletal muscle depletion is inversely associated with age, Child-Pugh score, and log (AFP). Moreover, it is an independent prognostic factor for HCC patients treated with sorafenib. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Elevated Levels of Endocannabinoids in Chronic Hepatitis C May Modulate Cellular Immune Response and Hepatic Stellate Cell Activation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(4), 7057-7076; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms16047057 - 27 Mar 2015
Cited by 20
Abstract
The endocannabinoid (EC) system is implicated in many chronic liver diseases, including hepatitis C viral (HCV) infection. Cannabis consumption is associated with fibrosis progression in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), however, the role of ECs in the development of CHC has never [...] Read more.
The endocannabinoid (EC) system is implicated in many chronic liver diseases, including hepatitis C viral (HCV) infection. Cannabis consumption is associated with fibrosis progression in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), however, the role of ECs in the development of CHC has never been explored. To study this question, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) were quantified in samples of HCV patients and healthy controls by gas and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoaclyglycerol lipase (MAGL) activity was assessed by [3H]AEA and [3H]2-AG hydrolysis, respectively. Gene expression and cytokine release were assayed by TaqMan PCR and ELISpot, respectively. AEA and 2-AG levels were increased in plasma of HCV patients, but not in liver tissues. Hepatic FAAH and MAGL activity was not changed. In peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), ECs inhibited IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-2 secretion. Inhibition of IL-2 by endogenous AEA was stronger in PBMC from HCV patients. In hepatocytes, 2-AG induced the expression of IL-6, -17A, -32 and COX-2, and enhanced activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC) co-cultivated with PBMC from subjects with CHC. In conclusion, ECs are increased in plasma of patients with CHC and might reveal immunosuppressive and profibrogenic effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Hepatitis A Virus Genotype Distribution during a Decade of Universal Vaccination of Preadolescents
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(4), 6842-6854; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms16046842 - 25 Mar 2015
Cited by 8
Abstract
A universal vaccination program among preadolescents was implemented in Catalonia, Spain, during the period of 1999–2013 and its effectiveness has been clearly demonstrated by an overall significant attack rate reduction. However, reductions were not constant over time, and increases were again observed in [...] Read more.
A universal vaccination program among preadolescents was implemented in Catalonia, Spain, during the period of 1999–2013 and its effectiveness has been clearly demonstrated by an overall significant attack rate reduction. However, reductions were not constant over time, and increases were again observed in 2002–2009 due to the occurrence of huge outbreaks. In the following years, in the absence of large outbreaks, the attack rate decreased again to very low levels. However, an increase of symptomatic cases in the <5 age group has recently been observed. This is an unexpected observation since children younger than 6 are mostly asymptomatic. Such a long vaccination campaign offers the opportunity to analyze not only the effectiveness of vaccination, but also the influence of the circulating genotypes on the incidence of hepatitis A among the different age groups. This study has revealed the emergence of genotype IC during a foodborne outbreak, the short-lived circulation of vaccine-escape variants isolated during an outbreak among the men-having-sex-with-men group, and the association of genotype IIIA with the increase of symptomatic cases among the very young. From a public health perspective, two conclusions may be drawn: vaccination is better at an early age, and the vaccination schedule must be complete and include all recommended vaccine doses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Favourable IFNL3 Genotypes Are Associated with Spontaneous Clearance and Are Differentially Distributed in Aboriginals in Canadian HIV-Hepatitis C Co-Infected Individuals
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(3), 6496-6512; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms16036496 - 20 Mar 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
Canadian Aboriginals are reported to clear Hepatitis C (HCV) more frequently. We tested the association of spontaneous clearance and three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near the Interferon-lambda 3 (IFNL3) gene (rs12979860, rs8099917, functional variant rs8103142) and compared the SNP frequencies between HIV-HCV co-infected [...] Read more.
Canadian Aboriginals are reported to clear Hepatitis C (HCV) more frequently. We tested the association of spontaneous clearance and three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near the Interferon-lambda 3 (IFNL3) gene (rs12979860, rs8099917, functional variant rs8103142) and compared the SNP frequencies between HIV-HCV co-infected whites and Aboriginals from the Canadian Co-infection Cohort. HCV treatment-naïve individuals with at least two HCV RNA tests were included (n = 538). A spontaneous clearance case was defined as someone with two consecutive HCV RNA-negative tests, at least six months apart. Data were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards adjusted for sex and ethnicity. Advantageous variants and haplotypes were more common in Aboriginals than Caucasians: 57% vs. 46% had the rs12979860 CC genotype, respectively; 58% vs. 48%, rs8103142 TT; 74% vs. 67%, the rs12979860 C allele; and 67% vs. 64% the TCT haplotype with three favourable alleles. The adjusted Hazard Ratios (95% CI) for spontaneous clearance were: rs12979860: 3.80 (2.20, 6.54); rs8099917: 5.14 (2.46, 10.72); and rs8103142: 4.36 (2.49, 7.62). Even after adjusting for rs12979860, Aboriginals and females cleared HCV more often, HR (95% CI) = 1.53 (0.89, 2.61) and 1.42 (0.79, 2.53), respectively. Our results suggest that favourable IFNL3 genotypes are more common among Aboriginals than Caucasians, and may partly explain the higher HCV clearance rates seen among Aboriginals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Reactivation of Hepatitis B Virus in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients in Japan: Efficacy of Nucleos(t)ide Analogues for Prevention and Treatment
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2014, 15(11), 21455-21467; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms151121455 - 21 Nov 2014
Cited by 27
Abstract
We retrospectively reviewed 413 recipients with hematologic malignancies who underwent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) between June 1986 and March 2013. Recipients with antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc) and/or to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) were regarded as experiencing previous hepatitis [...] Read more.
We retrospectively reviewed 413 recipients with hematologic malignancies who underwent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) between June 1986 and March 2013. Recipients with antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc) and/or to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) were regarded as experiencing previous hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Clinical data of these recipients were reviewed from medical records. We defined ≥1 log IU/mL increase in serum HBV DNA from nadir as HBV reactivation in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive recipients, and also defined ≥1 log IU/mL increase or re-appearance of HBV DNA and/or HBsAg as HBV reactivation in HBsAg-negative recipients. In 5 HBsAg-positive recipients, 2 recipients initially not administered with nucleos(t)ide analogues (NUCs) experienced HBV reactivation, but finally all 5 were successfully controlled with NUCs. HBV reactivation was observed in 11 (2.7%) of 408 HBsAg-negative recipients; 8 of these were treated with NUCs, and fortunately none developed acute liver failure. In 5 (6.0%) of 83 anti-HBc and/or anti-HBs-positive recipients, HBV reactivation occurred. None of 157 (0%) recipients without HBsAg, anti-HBs or anti-HBc experienced HBV reactivation. In HSCT recipients, HBV reactivation is a common event in HBsAg-positive recipients, or in HBsAg-negative recipients with anti-HBc and/or anti-HBs. Further attention should be paid to HSCT recipients with previous exposure to HBV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Chronic Hepatitis B with Spontaneous Severe Acute Exacerbation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(12), 28126-28145; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms161226087 - 26 Nov 2015
Cited by 9
Abstract
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major global health problem with an estimated 400 million HBV carriers worldwide. In the natural history of chronic hepatitis B (CHB), spontaneous acute exacerbation (AE) is not uncommon, with a cumulative incidence of 10%–30% every [...] Read more.
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major global health problem with an estimated 400 million HBV carriers worldwide. In the natural history of chronic hepatitis B (CHB), spontaneous acute exacerbation (AE) is not uncommon, with a cumulative incidence of 10%–30% every year. While exacerbations can be mild, some patients may develop hepatic decompensation and even die. The underlying pathogenesis is possibly related to the activation of cytotoxic T lymphocyte-mediated immune response against HBV. An upsurge of serum HBV DNA usually precedes the rise of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and bilirubin. Whether antiviral treatment can benefit CHB with severe AE remains controversial, but early nucleos(t)ide analogues treatment seemed to be associated with an improved outcome. There has been no randomized study that compared the effects of different nucleos(t)ide analogues (NA) in the setting of CHB with severe AE. However, potent NAs with good resistance profiles are recommended. In this review, we summarized current knowledge regarding the natural history, pathogenetic mechanisms, and therapeutic options of CHB with severe AE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessReview
Epidemiology of Hepatitis E Virus in European Countries
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(10), 25711-25743; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms161025711 - 27 Oct 2015
Cited by 63
Abstract
Over the last decade the seroprevalence of immunoglobulin (IgG) anti hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been increasing in European countries and shows significant variability among different geographical areas. In this review, we describe the serological data concerning the general population and risk groups [...] Read more.
Over the last decade the seroprevalence of immunoglobulin (IgG) anti hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been increasing in European countries and shows significant variability among different geographical areas. In this review, we describe the serological data concerning the general population and risk groups in different European countries. Anti-HEV antibody prevalence ranged from 1.3% (blood donors in Italy) to 52% (blood donors in France). Various studies performed on risk groups in Denmark, Moldova and Sweden revealed that swine farmers have a high seroprevalence of HEV IgG (range 13%–51.1%), confirming that pigs represent an important risk factor in HEV infection in humans. Subtypes 3e,f are the main genotypes detected in the European population. Sporadic cases of autochthonous genotype 4 have been described in Spain, France, and Italy. Although most HEV infections are subclinical, in immune-suppressed and transplant patients they could provoke chronic infection. Fulminant hepatitis has rarely been observed and it was related to genotype 3. Interferon and ribavirin treatment was seen to represent the most promising therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
Open AccessReview
Interferon Response in Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Infection: Lessons from Cell Culture Systems of HCV Infection
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(10), 23683-23694; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms161023683 - 07 Oct 2015
Cited by 2
Abstract
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a positive-stranded RNA virus that infects approximately 130–170 million people worldwide. In 2005, the first HCV infection system in cell culture was established using clone JFH-1, which was isolated from a Japanese patient with fulminant HCV infection. JFH-1 [...] Read more.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a positive-stranded RNA virus that infects approximately 130–170 million people worldwide. In 2005, the first HCV infection system in cell culture was established using clone JFH-1, which was isolated from a Japanese patient with fulminant HCV infection. JFH-1 replicates efficiently in hepatoma cells and infectious virion particles are released into the culture supernatant. The development of cell culture-derived HCV (HCVcc) systems has allowed us to understand how hosts respond to HCV infection and how HCV evades host responses. Although the mechanisms underlying the different outcomes of HCV infection are not fully understood, innate immune responses seem to have a critical impact on the outcome of HCV infection, as demonstrated by the prognostic value of IFN-λ gene polymorphisms among patients with chronic HCV infection. Herein, we review recent research on interferon response in HCV infection, particularly studies using HCVcc infection systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients with a Sustained Response to Anti-Hepatitis C Therapy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 19698-19712; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160819698 - 19 Aug 2015
Cited by 38
Abstract
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common, life-threatening complication of longstanding infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), likely a consequence of the direct oncogenic activity of the virus cooperating with liver cell inflammation in transforming the liver into a mitogenic and mutagenic environment. [...] Read more.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common, life-threatening complication of longstanding infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), likely a consequence of the direct oncogenic activity of the virus cooperating with liver cell inflammation in transforming the liver into a mitogenic and mutagenic environment. The achievement of a sustained virological response (SVR) to interferon-based therapies has been shown to benefit the course of hepatitis C in terms of reduced rates of liver-related complications and mortality from all causes. Interestingly, while achievement of an SVR is associated with a negligible risk of developing clinical decompensation over the years, the risk of HCC is not fully abrogated following HCV clearance, but it remains the dominant complication in all SVR populations. The factors accounting for such a residual risk of HCC in SVR patients are not fully understood, yet the persistence of the subverted architecture of the liver, diabetes and alcohol abuse are likely culprits. In the end, the risk of developing an HCC in SVR patients is attenuated by 75% compared to non-responders or untreated patients, whereas responders who develop an HCC may be stratified in different categories of HCC risk by a score based on the same demographic and liver disease-based variables, such as those that predict liver cancer in viremic patients. All in all, this prevents full understanding of those factors that drive HCC risk once HCV has been eradicated. Here, we critically review current understanding of HCC in SVR patients focusing on factors that predict residual risk of HCC among these patients and providing a glimpse of the expected benefits of new anti-HCV regimens based on direct antiviral agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
Open AccessReview
Therapeutic Strategies and New Intervention Points in Chronic Hepatitis Delta Virus Infection
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 19537-19552; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160819537 - 18 Aug 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
Chronic hepatitis delta virus infection (CHD) is a condition arising from super-infection of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients, resulting in a more rapid advance in liver pathology and hepatocellular carcinoma than is observed for HBV mono-infection. Although hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is structurally [...] Read more.
Chronic hepatitis delta virus infection (CHD) is a condition arising from super-infection of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients, resulting in a more rapid advance in liver pathology and hepatocellular carcinoma than is observed for HBV mono-infection. Although hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is structurally simple, its life cycle involves the complex participation of host enzymes, HBV-derived surface antigen (HBsAg), and HDV-auto-ribozyme and hepatitis delta antigen (HDAg) activities. Unsatisfactory clinical trial results with interferon-based therapies are motivating researchers to adjust and redirect the approach to CHD drug development. This new effort will likely require additional structural and functional studies of the viral and cellular/host components involved in the HDV replication cycle. This review highlights recent work aimed at new drug interventions for CHD, with interpretation of key pre-clinical- and clinical trial outcomes and a discussion of promising new technological approaches to antiviral drug design. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Hepatitis C in Special Patient Cohorts: New Opportunities in Decompensated Liver Cirrhosis, End-Stage Renal Disease and Transplant Medicine
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 18033-18053; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160818033 - 05 Aug 2015
Cited by 10
Abstract
Worldwide, hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a common infection. Due to new antiviral approaches and the approval of direct-acting antiviral agents (DAA), HCV therapy has become more comfortable. Nevertheless, there are special patient groups, in whom treatment of HCV is still challenging. Due [...] Read more.
Worldwide, hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a common infection. Due to new antiviral approaches and the approval of direct-acting antiviral agents (DAA), HCV therapy has become more comfortable. Nevertheless, there are special patient groups, in whom treatment of HCV is still challenging. Due to only few data available, tolerability and efficacy of DAAs in special patient cohorts still remain unclear. Such special patient cohorts comprise HCV in patients with decompensated liver disease (Child-Pugh Class B or C), patients with chronic kidney disease, and patients on waiting lists to renal/liver transplantation or those with HCV recurrence after liver transplantation. HCV infection in these patient cohorts has been shown to be associated with increased morbidity and mortality and may lead to reduced graft survival after transplantation. Successful eradication of HCV results in a better outcome concerning liver-related complications and in a better clinical outcome of these patients. In this review, we analyze available data and results from recently published literature and provide an overview of current recommendations of HCV-therapy regimen in these special patient cohorts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessReview
Hepatitis B Virus Infection, MicroRNAs and Liver Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 17746-17762; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160817746 - 03 Aug 2015
Cited by 22
Abstract
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) attacks the liver and can cause both acute as well as chronic liver diseases which might lead to liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Regardless of the availability of a vaccine and numerous treatment options, HBV is a major cause [...] Read more.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) attacks the liver and can cause both acute as well as chronic liver diseases which might lead to liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Regardless of the availability of a vaccine and numerous treatment options, HBV is a major cause of morbidity and mortality across the world. Recently,microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as important modulators of gene function. Studies on the role of miRNA in the regulation of hepatitis B virus gene expression have been the focus of modern antiviral research. miRNAs can regulate viral replication and pathogenesis in a number of different ways, which includefacilitation, direct or indirect inhibition, activation of immune response, epigenetic modulation, etc. Nevertheless, these mechanisms can appropriately be used with a diagnosticand/or therapeutic approach. The present review is an attempt to classify specific miRNAs that are reported to be associated with various aspects of hepatitis B biology, in order to precisely present the participation of individual miRNAs in multiple aspects relating to HBV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessReview
Progress and Prospects of Anti-HBV Gene Therapy Development
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 17589-17610; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160817589 - 31 Jul 2015
Cited by 20
Abstract
Despite the availability of an effective vaccine against hepatitis B virus (HBV), chronic infection with the virus remains a major global health concern. Current drugs against HBV infection are limited by emergence of resistance and rarely achieve complete viral clearance. This has prompted [...] Read more.
Despite the availability of an effective vaccine against hepatitis B virus (HBV), chronic infection with the virus remains a major global health concern. Current drugs against HBV infection are limited by emergence of resistance and rarely achieve complete viral clearance. This has prompted vigorous research on developing better drugs against chronic HBV infection. Advances in understanding the life cycle of HBV and improvements in gene-disabling technologies have been impressive. This has led to development of better HBV infection models and discovery of new drug candidates. Ideally, a regimen against chronic HBV infection should completely eliminate all viral replicative intermediates, especially covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). For the past few decades, nucleic acid-based therapy has emerged as an attractive alternative that may result in complete clearance of HBV in infected patients. Several genetic anti-HBV strategies have been developed. The most studied approaches include the use of antisense oligonucleotides, ribozymes, RNA interference effectors and gene editing tools. This review will summarize recent developments and progress made in the use of gene therapy against HBV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessReview
Molecular Mechanisms to Control Post-Transplantation Hepatitis B Recurrence
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 17494-17513; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160817494 - 30 Jul 2015
Cited by 7
Abstract
Hepatitis B often progresses to decompensated liver cirrhosis requiring orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Although newer nucleos(t)ide analogues result in >90% viral and hepatitis activity control, severely decompensated patients still need OLT because of drug-resistant virus, acute exacerbation, or hepatocellular carcinoma. Acute hepatitis B [...] Read more.
Hepatitis B often progresses to decompensated liver cirrhosis requiring orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Although newer nucleos(t)ide analogues result in >90% viral and hepatitis activity control, severely decompensated patients still need OLT because of drug-resistant virus, acute exacerbation, or hepatocellular carcinoma. Acute hepatitis B is also an indication for OLT, because it can progress to fatal acute liver failure. After OLT, the hepatitis B recurrence rate is >80% without prevention, while >90% of transplant recipients are clinically controlled with combined hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) and nucleos(t)ide analogue treatment. However, long-term HBIG administration is associated with several unresolved issues, including limited availability and extremely high cost; therefore, several treatment protocols with low-dose HBIG, combined with nucleos(t)ide analogues, have been investigated. Another approach is to induce self-producing anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) antibodies using an HBV envelope (HBs) antigen vaccine. Patients who are not HBV carriers, such as those with acutely infected liver failure, are good candidates for vaccination. For chronic HBV carrier liver cirrhosis patients, a successful vaccine response can only be achieved in selected patients, such as those treated with experimentally reduced immunosuppression protocols. The present protocol for post-OLT HBV control and the future prospects of newer treatment strategies are reviewed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessReview
Hepatoma-Derived Growth Factor: Its Possible Involvement in the Progression of Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(6), 14086-14097; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160614086 - 19 Jun 2015
Cited by 22
Abstract
The development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an important complication of viral infection induced by hepatitis virus C, and our major research theme is to identify a new growth factor related to the progression of HCC. HDGF (hepatoma-derived growth factor) is a novel [...] Read more.
The development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an important complication of viral infection induced by hepatitis virus C, and our major research theme is to identify a new growth factor related to the progression of HCC. HDGF (hepatoma-derived growth factor) is a novel growth factor that belongs to a new gene family. HDGF was initially purified from the conditioned medium of a hepatoma cell line. HDGF promotes cellular proliferation as a DNA binding nuclear factor and a secreted protein acting via a receptor-mediated pathway. HDGF is a unique multi-functional protein that can function as a growth factor, angiogenic factor and anti-apoptotic factor and it participates in the development and progression of various malignant diseases. The expression level of HDGF may be an independent prognostic factor for predicting the disease-free and overall survival in patients with various malignancies, including HCC. Furthermore, the overexpression of HDGF promotes the proliferation of HCC cells, while a reduction in the HDGF expression inhibits the proliferation of HCC cells. This article provides an overview of the characteristics of HDGF and describes the potential role of HDGF as a growth-promoting factor for HCC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessReview
Association of preS/S Mutations with Occult Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Infection in South Korea: Transmission Potential of Distinct Occult HBV Variants
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(6), 13595-13609; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160613595 - 15 Jun 2015
Cited by 20
Abstract
Occult hepatitis B virus infection (HBV) is characterized by HBV DNA positivity but HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) negativity. Occult HBV infection is associated with a risk of HBV transmission through blood transfusion, hemodialysis, and liver transplantation. Furthermore, occult HBV infection contributes to the [...] Read more.
Occult hepatitis B virus infection (HBV) is characterized by HBV DNA positivity but HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) negativity. Occult HBV infection is associated with a risk of HBV transmission through blood transfusion, hemodialysis, and liver transplantation. Furthermore, occult HBV infection contributes to the development of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. We recently reported the characteristic molecular features of mutations in the preS/S regions among Korean individuals with occult infections caused by HBV genotype C2; the variants of preS and S related to severe liver diseases among chronically infected patients were also responsible for the majority of HBV occult infections. We also reported that HBsAg variants from occult-infected Korean individuals exhibit lower HBsAg secretion capacity but not reduced HBV DNA levels. In addition, these variants exhibit increased ROS-inducing capacity compared with the wild-type strain, linking HBV occult infections to liver cell damage. Taken together, our previous reports suggest the transmission potential of distinct HBV occult infection-related variants in South Korea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessReview
Faldaprevir for the Treatment of Hepatitis C
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(3), 4985-4996; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms16034985 - 04 Mar 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
The current treatments for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection are combinations of direct-acting antivirals, and faldaprevir is one of the new generation of HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors. At the end of 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved [...] Read more.
The current treatments for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection are combinations of direct-acting antivirals, and faldaprevir is one of the new generation of HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors. At the end of 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor simeprevir and the HCV NS5B polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir. Simeprevir or sofosbuvir in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin are available for clinical use. Faldaprevir, another HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor that also has fewer adverse events than telaprevir or boceprevir, is under development. Of interest, faldaprevir in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, and interferon-free treatment with faldaprevir in combination with deleobuvir plus ribavirin provides high sustained virological response rates for HCV genotype 1 infection. The aim of this article is to review these data concerning faldaprevir. Faldaprevir in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin treatment appears to be associated with fewer adverse events than telaprevir or boceprevir in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, and may be one of the therapeutic options for treatment-naive patients with HCV genotype 1. The interferon-free combination of faldaprevir and deleobuvir with ribavirin was effective for HCV genotype 1 infection and may hold promise for interferon-ineligible and interferon-intolerant patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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Open AccessReview
Significant Roles of Regulatory T Cells and Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells in Hepatitis B Virus Persistent Infection and Hepatitis B Virus-Related HCCs
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(2), 3307-3322; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms16023307 - 03 Feb 2015
Cited by 28
Abstract
The adaptive immune system, including type1 helper T cells (Th1 cells), cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), and dendritic cells (DCs), plays an important role in the control of hepatitis B virus (HBV). On the other hand, regulatory T cells (Tregs) and myeloid derived suppressor [...] Read more.
The adaptive immune system, including type1 helper T cells (Th1 cells), cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), and dendritic cells (DCs), plays an important role in the control of hepatitis B virus (HBV). On the other hand, regulatory T cells (Tregs) and myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) suppress the immune reaction in HBV and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Excessive activation of immune suppressive cells could contribute to the persistent infection of HBV and the progression of HCC. The frequency and/or function of Tregs could affect the natural course in chronic hepatitis B patients and the treatment response. In addition to the suppressive function of MDSCs, MDSCs could affect the induction and function of Tregs. Therefore, we should understand in detail the mechanism by which Tregs and MDSCs are induced to control HBV persistent infection and HBV-related HCC. Immune suppressive cells, including Tregs and MDSCs, contribute to the difficulty in inducing an effective immune response for HBV persistent infection and HBV-related HCC. In this review, we focus on the Tregs and MDSCs that could be potential targets for immune therapy of chronic hepatitis B and HBV-related HCC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)

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Open AccessCase Report
Successful and Safe Long-Term Standard Antiviral Therapy in a Patient with “Explosive” Immune Response in Course of HCV-Related Liver Cirrhosis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(6), 14075-14085; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms160614075 - 19 Jun 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been recognized to be both a hepato- and lymphotropic virus. HCV lymphotropism represents an essential detail in the pathogenesis of virus-related autoimmune and lymphoproliferative disorders, ranging from clonal expansion of B-cells with organ and non-organ-specific autoantibody production up [...] Read more.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been recognized to be both a hepato- and lymphotropic virus. HCV lymphotropism represents an essential detail in the pathogenesis of virus-related autoimmune and lymphoproliferative disorders, ranging from clonal expansion of B-cells with organ and non-organ-specific autoantibody production up to overt non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma along a continuous step-by-step model of B-cell lymphomagenesis, where the intermediated mixed cryoglobulinemia could be considered as a stage of suppressible antigen-driven lymphoproliferation. The HCV long-lasting extrahepatic replicative state generates an abnormal systemic immunological response, including rheumatoid factor (RF) and cryo- and non-cryoprecipitable immune complexes, as well as clinical manifestations, comprising dermatitis, polyarthralgias and arthritis, pulmonary disease, aplastic anemia, glomerulonephritis and vasculitis. The mechanism of these extra-hepatic disorders is thought of as linked to immune complex disease, but their pathogenesis is poorly clarified. Immune-suppressive treatment could induce high-level hepatitis C viremia and impair hepatic disease. We report a female patient, whose chronic HCV-related liver cirrhosis with associated explosive, but oligosymptomatic lymphoproliferative immune response, i.e., RF beyond three thousand times the upper of normal range (unr), type II cryoglobulinemia with cryocrit 40% and monoclonal gammopathy IgM-k, has been successfully and safely treated by long-lasting (sixty-six months) combined antiviral therapy (pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin), at moderate and tapering dose regimen, prolonged for nearly 24 months after the first viral suppression. At the last follow-up (fifty-one months), the patient was showing very-long term antiviral response, progressive decline of secondary immune activation and absence of significant side-effects. Further research is required to fully verify the real impact on therapeutic choice/regimen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Hepatitis Research)
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