Hepatitis B: The virus and disease

T. Jake Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

436 Scopus citations


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infects more than 300 million people worldwide and is a common cause of liver disease and liver cancer. HBV, a member of the Hepadnaviridae family, is a small DNA virus with unusual features similar to retroviruses. HBV replicates through an RNA intermediate and can integrate into the host genome. The unique features of the HBV replication cycle confer a distinct ability of the virus to persist in infected cells. Virological and serological assays have been developed for diagnosis of various forms of HBV-associated disease and for treatment of chronic hepatitis B infection. HBV infection leads to a wide spectrum of liver disease ranging from acute (including fulminant hepatic failure) to chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Acute HBV infection can be either asymptomatic or present with symptomatic acute hepatitis. Most adults infected with the virus recover, but 5%-10% are unable to clear the virus and become chronically infected. Many chronically infected persons have mild liver disease with little or no long-term morbidity or mortality. Other individuals with chronic HBV infection develop active disease, which can progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer. These patients require careful monitoring and warrant therapeutic intervention. Extrahepatic manifestations of HBV infection are rare but can be difficult to diagnose and manage. The challenges in the area of HBV-associated disease are the lack of knowledge in predicting outcome and progression of HBV infection and an unmet need to understand the molecular, cellular, immunological, and genetic basis of various disease manifestations associated with HBV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue numberSUPPL. 5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • General Medicine


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