Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32904132
Link to DOI – 10014410.1016/j.jhepr.2020.100144
JHEP Rep 2020 Oct; 2(5): 100144
Although HBV is a major cause of death in Africa, its genetic variability has been poorly documented. This study aimed to address whether HBV genotype and surface gene variants are associated with HBV-related liver disease in The Gambia.We conducted a case-control study nested in the Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa programme. Consecutive treatment-naive patients with chronic HBV infection and detectable viral load were recruited: 211 controls with no significant liver disease and 91 cases (56 cirrhosis and 35 HCC cases). HBV genotypes and surface gene variants were determined by Sanger sequencing or next-generation sequencing (NGS) in serum DNA. Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1)-specific codon 249 TP53 mutation was determined by NGS in circulating cell-free plasma DNA.In phylogenetic analysis, 85% of individuals carried HBV genotype E, 14% genotype A, and 1% A/E recombinant viruses. Surface gene variants were more frequently observed in cases (43% and 57% in cirrhosis and HCC cases, respectively) than controls (25%; p 2,000 IU/ml (OR 22.7 [8.0-64.9]), HBsAg levels <10,000 IU/ml (OR 19.0 [5.5-65.3]), and AFB1 exposure (OR 29.3 [3.7-230.4]) on HCC risk.This study identified a hotspot for HBV preS2 deletions as a strong independent factor for HCC in The Gambia, with HBV genotypes and AFB1 exposure contributing to the high liver cancer risk.Although HBV-related liver disease is highly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, the associated virological characteristics are poorly studied. Using clinical data from African patients chronically infected with HBV, an assessment of the virological variability (genotypes and mutations) and exposure to AFB1, a toxin often contaminating food, was carried out. Our results show that HBV genotypes, the presence of a highly prevalent mutant form of HBV, and AFB1 exposure contribute to the high liver cancer risk in this population.