Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the correlation between precore (PC)/basal core promoter (BCP) mutations and the viral loads or activity of hepatitis in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Methods: HBV genotypes, PC mutations, BCP mutations, HBV DNA levels, and serological markers of HBV were analyzed in all the patients with chronic HBV infection seen in Fujita Health University Hospital from June 2004 to November 2008 (n = 215). Results: HBV genotype was C in 169 patients, B in 16, A in 3, F in 1, and unclassifiable in 5. Among the patients with genotype C, the prevalence of PC wild type was significantly lower in hepatitis B envelope antigen (HBeAg)(-) patients than in HBeAg(+) patients (9.5% versus 49.0%, P < 0.0001). Among HBeAg(-) patients, the patients with PC wild type had significantly lower serum viral loads and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels compared with those with PC mutant (P < 0.001). Among HBeAg(-) patients, the patients with genotype B had lower serum viral loads compared with those with genotype C (3.6 ± 0.9 versus 4.6 ± 1.6, P < 0.05), and the prevalence of BCP wild type was significantly higher in those with genotype B than in those with genotype C (58.3% versus 10.8%, P < 0.05). Conclusions: Among HBeAg(-) patients with genotype C, the patients with PC wild type had significantly lower viral loads and ALT levels than those with PC mutant. This suggests that the patients with PC wild type may have better prognosis than those with PC mutant among HBeAg(-) patients with genotype C.
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