Tracing the history of hepatitis B virus genotype D in western Japan


  • Institution at which the work was performed.


The major hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes in Japan are B and C. HBV genotype D (HBV/D), however, is widespread in a small area of Western Japan, where the Gianotti–Crosti syndrome caused by HBV subtype ayw, which is suspected to be HBV/D, was endemic in the 1970s. The aim of the study was to elucidate its origin, time of transmission, and spread in this area. Genotyping of HBV-DNA was done in 363 patients with HBV infection. The year of birth was checked in patients with HBV/D. The full genome sequences of 20 HBV/D strains, 2 of which were obtained from a single carrier with a 19-year-interval, were analyzed. An evolutionary rate, the date of the most recent common ancestor, and the effective number of HBV/D infections were calculated. Fifty-two of 363 patients were infected with HBV/D, and 39 were born in 1970s. In a phylogenetic tree, the 20 HBV/D strains produced a definite cluster, and the evolutionary rate was calculated to be 5.4 × 10−5 nucleotide substitutions/site/year. The root of the tree was estimated to be in approximately 1,900 and began to spread from the 1940s, leading to a rapid increase of infected patients in the 1970s. From these results, it is suspected that HBV/D was likely transmitted to the area investigated approximately 100 years ago and then spread widely in the 1970s. From the history of the area and the genetic analysis, HBV/D in this area was speculated to be of Russian origin. J. Med. Virol. 78:44–52, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, inc.