Viral Hepatitis D

  • John M. Taylor
Part of the Molecular Pathology Library book series (MPLB, volume 5)


Viral hepatitis D, also known as hepatitis delta virus (HDV), was first discovered by Mario Rizzetto in 1977, in a study of Italian patients infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV), who seemed to have a more damaging liver disease. For more information on HBV, please see Chap. 37. In liver biopsies from such patients, a serum antibody detected a novel nuclear antigen that was named the delta antigen (δAg) [1]. An early interpretation was that δAg was expressed from a more pathogenic variant of HBV. In contrast, it was shown that δAg is a protein encoded by HDV, a virus separate from HBV and yet dependent upon HBV for the provision of envelope proteins essential for the assembly of new virus particles and for the process in which HDV is able to attach to and infect new susceptible cells [2]. Therefore, in nature, productive HDV infections can only be associated with HBV. This dependence provides a complication in understanding how HDV can make HBV infections more damaging. However, as will be explained, it is experimentally possible to assemble HDV in the presence of HBV envelope proteins, but absence of infectious HBV. Also, it is possible to assess the effects of HDV genome replication in cells in the absence of the processes of virus entry and infection and/or virus particle assembly.


Hepatitis Delta Virus Helper Virus Hepatitis Delta Virus Infection Delta Antigen Virus Particle Assembly 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author was supported by grants AI-26522 and CA-06927 from the NIH and by an appropriation from the Common­wealth of Pennsylvania. Certain unpublished studies cited were performed in collaboration with Ziying Han, Severin Gudima, Suresh Peri, Michael Slifker, and Yue-Sheng Lee. William Mason, W. Thomas London, and Richard Katz gave constructive comments on the chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fox Chase Cancer CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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