• Argentina;
  • hepatitis B virus;
  • hepatitis B virus genotypes;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • pre-S mutants

Summary.  Prevalence rates of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)-associated hepatitis B virus (HBV) pre-S mutants among most genotypes are still lacking. In this study, viral (sub)genotypes of 70 Argentine nucleotide sequences (33 newly obtained) were determined by phylogenetic analysis, and the presence of such mutants was assessed in the American continent for the first time. Nucleotide substitutions of the pre-S2 start codon were observed in 10% of the HBV/A2 sequences. Ten per cent of the HBV/A2 and 12.5% of the HBV/F1b – but none of HBV/F4 – exhibited a deletion in the pre-S1/pre-S2 region. The contribution of these variants to liver cirrhosis (LC) and/or HCC development among HBV/F and HBV/A isolates deserves further prospective clinical studies.