Plasma MicroRNA Levels Are Associated With Hepatitis B e Antigen Status and Treatment Response in Chronic Hepatitis B Patients

Meike H. van der Ree, Louis Jansen, Zita Kruize, Ad C. van Nuenen, Karel A. van Dort, R. Bart Takkenberg, Hendrik W. Reesink, Neeltje A. Kootstra

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Hepatitis B virus (HBV) modulates microRNA (miRNA) expression to support viral replication. The aim of this study was to identify miRNAs associated with hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) status and response to antiviral therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) , and to assess if these miRNAs are actively secreted by hepatoma cells. Plasma miRNA levels were measured by reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction in healthy controls (n = 10) and pretreatment samples of an identification cohort (n = 24) and a confirmation cohort (n = 64) of CHB patients treated with peginterferon/nucleotide analogue combination therapy. Levels of HBV-associated miRNAs were measured in cells, extracellular vesicles, and hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) particles of hepatoma cell lines. HBeAg-positive patients had higher plasma levels of miR-122-5p, miR-125b-5p, miR-192-5p, miR-193b-3p, and miR-194-5p compared to HBeAg-negative patients, and levels of these miRNAs were associated with HBV DNA and HBsAg levels. Pretreatment plasma levels of miR-301a-3p and miR-145-5p were higher in responders (combined response or HBsAg loss) compared to nonresponders. miR-192-5p, miR-193b-3p, and miR-194-5p were present in extracellular vesicles and HBsAg particles derived from hepatoma cells. We identified miRNAs that are associated with HBeAg status, levels of HBV DNA and HBsAg, and treatment response in CHB patients. We demonstrated that several of these miRNAs are present in extracellular vesicles and HBsAg particles secreted by hepatoma cells
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1421-1429
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of infectious diseases
Issue number9
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • chronic hepatitis B patients
  • hepatitis B virus
  • microRNA
  • treatment outcome

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