Characterization and biological properties of a hepatitis B virus isolated from a patient without hepatitis B virus serologic markers

Authors

  • Dr. T. Jake Liang,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Molecular Hepatology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129
    2. Gastrointestinal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114
    • Molecular Hepatology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, 149 13th Street, 7th Floor, Charlestown, MA 02129
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  • Hubert E. Blum,

    1. Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Molecular Hepatology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129
    2. Gastrointestinal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114
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  • Jack R. Wands

    1. Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Molecular Hepatology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129
    2. Gastrointestinal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114
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Abstract

We have developed a rapid method to characterize genomic diversity of low-level hepatitis B and related viral agents after their identification in serum by high-affinity HBsAg-antibody monoclonal antibody capture and subsequent polymerase chain reaction amplification. Serum from an individual with chronic liver disease and without hepatitis B virus serological markers but reactive by monoclonal antibody capture/polymerase chain reaction amplification was inoculated into a chimpanzee. After inoculation, an acute hepatitis B virus-like hepatitis developed in the chimpanzee. Analysis of serial liver biopsy samples showed the persistence of hepatitis B virus DNA for more than 17 mo after resolution of acute hepatitis and seroconversion. Applying the technique of restriction enzyme fragment analysis to serial chimpanzee liver biopsy samples and acute-phase sera, along with the serum inoculum, we established that all hepatitis B virus DNA sequences are derived from the same viral agent. We present evidence that the viral DNA persisted as a nonreplicating episomal form in the nucleus of hepatocytes. This study demonstrates that after clinical and serological recovery from an acute hepatitis, there may be persistence of low-level hepatitis B virus-related genome in the liver despite the presence of antibodies to HBsAg. Such persistence of viral genome may be a natural sequela of infection and may serve as a source of viral latency and possible reactivation. Finally, cloning and complete nucleic-acid sequencing of this virus have demonstrated multiple nucleotide and amino acid changes compared with all known hepatitis B virus subtypes. These changes may have contributed in part to a different antigenic composition or immunological reactivity of the host to this hepatitis B virus isolate. (HEPATOLOGY 1990;12:204–212).

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