At least 10 hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes (A to J) with distinct geographic distributions and several HBV mutants, including precore/core promoter mutations and pre-S/S deletion mutations, have been recognized to be not only predictive of liver disease progression but also associated with response to antiviral therapy. HBV genotype-specific pathogenesis may contribute to heterogeneous clinical outcomes in chronic hepatitis B patients across the world. For example, patients with HBV genotypes C and D infection have a lower rate of spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion. In addition, HBV genotypes C and D have a higher frequency of core promoter and pre-S mutations than genotypes A and B. Genotypes C and D also carry a higher lifetime risk of cirrhosis and HCC development than genotypes A and B. Core promoter and pre-S mutations also correlate with an increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Therapeutically, genotypes A and B patients have a better response to interferon-based therapy than genotypes C and D patients, but the response to nucleos(t)ide analogs is comparable across different HBV genotypes. In conclusion, HBV genotypes and variants may serve as viral genetic markers to predict disease progression as well as help practicing physicians optimize individualized antiviral therapy in clinical practice.
Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives In Medicine, 5(5), a021436