Molecular diversity of hepatitis B virus among pregnant women in Amhara National Regional State, Ethiopia

PLoS One. 2022 Nov 15;17(11):e0276687. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0276687. eCollection 2022.


BACKGROUND: Despite the availability of effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B virus (HBV), it continues to be a major public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa including Ethiopia. Routine screening for HBV in pregnant women is widely recommended, but there is lack of screening for HBV during pregnancy in Ethiopia. Therefore, this study aimed to assess viral load, and genetic diversity among pregnant women in the Amhara National Regional State, Ethiopia.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) testing was performed on 1846 pregnant women, 85 of who tested positive were included in this study. HBV DNA was isolated from 85 positive sera, and the partial surface/polymerase gene was amplified and sequenced. HBV genotypes, sub-genotypes, serotypes and mutations in surface genes and polymerase were studied.

RESULTS: Out of 85 pregnant women`s HBsAg positive sera, 59(69.4%) had detectable viral DNA. The median viral load was 3.4 log IU/ml ranging from 2.6 to7.6 and 46 samples were successfully sequenced and genotyped. Genotypes A and D were identified in 39 (84.8%) and 7 (15.2%); respectively. All genotype A isolates were further classified into sub-genotype A1 and serotype adw2 (84.8%) whereas genotype D isolates were further classified into three sub genotypes; 2 (4.3%) D2, 1(2.2%) D4, and 4 (8.7%) D10 with serotypes ayw2 (10.9%), and ayw3 (4.3%). There were 19 (41.3%) surface gene mutations in the major hydrophilic region (MHR). Six (13.1%) of them were discovered in MHR`s `a’-determinant region. Six polymerase gene mutations (13%) were identified.

CONCLUSION: Genotype A was the predominant genotype in the Amhara National Regional State. The surface and polymerase gene mutations identified in this study may lead to immune therapy failure, diagnostics escape and drug resistance. Thus, the data generated in this study will contribute to the planning of HBV diagnosis, vaccination and treatment, and most importantly to the prevention of vertical transmission of HBV in Ethiopia. Therefore, further molecular studies on HBV are warranted and continuous surveillance is important for patient management and for the prevention and control of HBV infection in the country.

PMID:36378635 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0276687


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