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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Hepatitis B surface antigen variants in voluntary blood donors in Nanjing, China

Yang Yong-lin12, Fu Qiang1, Zhang Ming-shun23, Cai Jie2, Ma Gui-ming1, Huang Zu-hu2* and Cai Xu-bing1*

Author Affiliations

1 Nanjing Red Cross Blood Center, Nanjing, China

2 Department of Infectious Disease, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China

3 Department of Microbiology and immunology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:82  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-82

Published: 14 April 2012

Abstract

Background

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is still one of the serious infectious risks for the blood transfusion safety in China. One plausible reason is the emergence of the variants in the major antigenic alpha determinant within the major hydrophilic region (MHR) of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), which have been assumed to evade the immune surveillance and pose a challenge to the disease diagnosis. It is well documented that some commercial ELISA kits could detect the wild-type but not the mutant viruses. The high prevalence of HBV in China also impaired the application of nucleic acid testing (NAT) in the improvement of blood security. Molecular epidemiological study of HBsAg variations in China is still limited. This study was designed to identify the prevalence of mutations in the HBsAg in voluntary blood donors in Nanjing, China.

Methods

A total of 20,326 blood units were enrolled in this study, 39 donors were positive for HBV S gene in the nested-PCR. Mutations in the major hydrophilic region (MHR; aa 99-169) were identified by direct sequencing of S region.

Results

Among of 20,326 blood units in the Red Cross Transfusion Center of Nanjing from October 2008 to April 2009, 296 samples (1.46%, 296/20,326) were HBsAg positive in the 2 successive rounds of the ELISA test. In these HBsAg positive units, HBV S gene could be successfully amplified from 39 donors (13.18%, 39/296) in the nested-PCR. Sequence analysis revealed that 32 strains (82.1%, 32/39) belong to genotype B, 7 strains (17.9%, 7/39) to genotype C. Besides well known G145R, widely dispersed variations in the MHR of S region, were observed in 20 samples of all the strains sequenced.

Conclusions

HBV/B and HBV/C are dominant in Nanjing, China. The mutations in the MHR of HBsAg associated with disease diagnosis are common.

Keywords:
Hepatitis B virus; Hepatitis B surface antigen; Mutation; Genotype