Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
On-line version ISSN 1414-431X
ALENCAR, R.S.M. et al. Low occurrence of occult hepatitis B virus infection and high frequency of hepatitis C virus genotype 3 in hepatocellular carcinoma in Brazil. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2008, vol.41, n.3, pp. 235-240. Epub Nov 29, 2007. ISSN 1414-431X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X2006005000197.
Occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has been reported among patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Our aim was to evaluate the presence of occult HBV infection in patients with HCV-related liver cirrhosis (LC) with or without HCC in São Paulo, Brazil. Serum and liver tissue samples from 50 hepatitis B surface antigen-negative patients with HCV-related LC who underwent liver transplantation at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine Hospital from 1993 to 2004 were divided into groups with LC only (N = 33) and with LC plus HCC (N = 17). HBV DNA was assayed for serum and paraffin-embedded liver tissue (tumoral and non-tumoral) using real time PCR and only 1 case with HCC had HBV DNA-positive serum. All liver samples were negative. HCV genotype 3 was detected in 17/39 (43.7%) cases. In conclusion, using a sensitive real time PCR directed to detect HBV variants circulating in Brazil, occult hepatitis B infection was not found among HCV-positive cirrhotic patients and was rarely found among HCV-positive HCC patients. These results are probably related to the low prevalence of HBV infection in our population. Furthermore, we have also shown that HCV genotype 3 is frequently found in Brazilian cirrhotic patients, particularly when they also have HCC. More studies involving a large number of cases should be carried out to confirm these data and to further characterize Brazilian HCV genotype isolates to elucidate genetic features that might be related to its carcinogenic potential.
Keywords : Hepatitis C virus; Occult hepatitis B; Hepatocellular carcinoma; HCV genotypes.