Variability of the hepatitis B surface protein in HBV-infected liver transplant recipients
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- Schätzl, H.M., Sieger, E., Jilg, W. et al. J Biomed Sci (1997) 4: 146. doi:10.1007/BF02255643
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Variations in the major surface proteins (HBsAg) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) have been implicated in the high rate of reinfection in HBV-infected recipients of orthotopic liver transplantations (OLT). Sera from 6 OLT patients positive for HBsAg and from 3 recipients negative for it prior to transplantation were analyzed over several years, and 39 HBsAg sequences were compared. Despite anti-HBs immunoprophylaxis resulting in the disappearance of HBsAg, HBV DNA was detectable by a sensitive nested PCR in almost all sera. In 1 patient, a significant temporary shift in HBV subtypes was observed, indicating a mixed infection or the presence of multiple HBV populations in this patient; this was also true for other patients. Amino acid substitutions compared to wild-type HBV subtypes in 7 patients and variations within patients in 5 patients were detectable over time; the ‘escape mutation’ at amino acid position 145 was detected in 2 patients. Our data suggest that the high rate of reinfection in OLT recipients seems not to be associated with specific sequence variations in the major HBs gene, but shows a remarkable inter- and intraindividual variability. Obviously, no correlation between heterogeneity in this gene and clinical outcome was present.