Irma V. Machado, María del Pilar Fortes, Berta Vargas-Lovelle, Aleidy C. Trómpiz, Danerys A. López, Roberto V. León, Merita Senior, Lucy Dagher, Carmen E. López, Elena Pestana, Román Bacalao, Miguel E. Garassini
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been classified into 8 genotypes (A-H). Genotypes A, D and F have been identified in some South American countries, but in Venezuela studies have been more restricted to aboriginal communities where genotype F is predominant. The aim of the present study was to identify the prevalence of HBV genotypes among native HBsAg carriers in Venezuelan urban areas. In addition, we correlated the predominant HBV genotype with epidemiological, serological and virological features of the infection. Non-Venezuelan migrant patients were excluded from this study. Serum samples from 90 patients (21 children and 69 adults) with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) were analyzed. Seventy-four patients had CHB e-antigen positive and 16 CHB e-antigen negative. HBV DNA serum levels of the whole group ranged from 4.1 to 8.8 log10 IU/mL. Patients with CHB e-antigen positive showed significantly higher viral loads (P = 0.0001) than the group with CHB e-antigen negative. Eighty-eight patients (97.8%) exhibited HBV genotype F while two non-related patients (2.2%) were infected with A + F genotypes. Genotype F is the main circulating HBV strain among HBsAg carriers from Venezuelan urban areas. This genotype is associated mostly with CHB eantigen positive and high rate of transmission. Progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma could be major clinical events of this patient population independently of age at acquisition or transmission route.
Key words. Genotype F, Chronic hepatitis B, e-entigen, Anti-eHB antibodies, Urban HBV carrier