Background The aim of this study was to determine the role of baseline hepatitis B virus (HBV) forming covalently closed circular DNA (HBV cccDNA) in liver inflammation in patients infected with HBV with serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels under two times the upper limit of normal (2 × ULN). Methods After liver biopsy and serum virological and biochemical marker screening, patients diagnosed with chronic HBV infection with serum ALT levels under 2 × ULN and histological liver inflammation of less than grade G2 were prospectively recruited into this study. Recruitment took place between March 2009 and November 2010 at the Center of Infectious Disease, Sichuan University. Patient virological and biochemical markers, as well as markers of liver inflammation, were monitored. Results A total of 102 patients were recruited and 68 met the inclusion criteria; the median follow-up was 4.1 years (range 3.9–5.2 years). During follow-up, 41 patients (60.3%) exhibited signs of inflammation. Baseline HBV cccDNA >1 copy/cell (odds ratio 9.43, p = 0.049) and liver inflammation grade ≥G1 (odds ratio 5.77, p = 0.046) were both independent predictors of liver inflammation. Conclusions A higher baseline intrahepatic HBV cccDNA level may increase the risk of liver inflammation. Further investigations will be required to validate HBV cccDNA as an intrahepatic virological marker of patients who require extended outpatient management.
Liang, L. B., Zhu, X., Yan, L. B., Du, L. Y., Liu, C., Liao, J., & Tang, H. (2016). Quantitative intrahepatic HBV cccDNA correlates with histological liver inflammation in chronic hepatitis B virus infection. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 52, 77–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2016.09.022