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World J Gastroenterol. Aug 14, 2013; 19(30): 4867-4876
Published online Aug 14, 2013. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i30.4867
MicroRNAs may solve the mystery of chronic hepatitis B virus infection
Ying-Feng Wei, Guang-Ying Cui, Ping Ye, Jia-Ning Chen, Hong-Yan Diao
Ying-Feng Wei, Guang-Ying Cui, Ping Ye, Jia-Ning Chen, Hong-Yan Diao, State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, The First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medical, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310003, Zhejiang Province, China
Author contributions: Diao HY directed the paper; Wei YF collected the date and wrote the paper; Cui GY, Ye P and Chen JN took part in the revising of this paper.
Supported by The National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 81271810; 12-5 state S and T Projects for infectious diseases, No. 2012ZX10002-007; Doctoral Fund of Ministry of Education of China, No. 20120101110009; the National Basic Research Program, No. 2013CB531405
Correspondence to: Hong-Yan Diao, MD, PhD, State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, the First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, 79 Qingchun Road, Hangzhou 310003, Zhejiang Province, China.
Telephone: +86-571-87236446 Fax: +86-571-87236446
Received: April 6, 2013
Revised: June 4, 2013
Accepted: July 4, 2013
Published online: August 14, 2013

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global public health problem that causes persistent liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. A large amount of people die annually from HBV infection. However, the pathogenesises of the HBV-related diseases are ill defined and the therapeutic strategies for the diseases are less than optimum. The recently discovered microRNAs (miRNAs) are tiny noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression primarily at the post-transcriptional level by binding to mRNAs. miRNAs contribute to a variety of physiological and pathological processes. A number of miRNAs have been found to play a pivotal role in the host-virus interaction including host-HBV interaction. Numerous studies have indicated that HBV infection could change the cellular miRNA expression patterns and different stages of HBV associated disease have displayed distinctive miRNA profiles. Furthermore, the differential expressed miRNAs have been found involved in the progression of HBV-related diseases, for instance some miRNAs are involved in liver tumorigenesis and tumor metastasis. Studies have also shown that the circulating miRNA in serum or plasma might be a very useful biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of HBV-related diseases. In addition, miRNA-based therapy strategies have attracted increasing attention, indicating a promising future in the treatment of HBV-related diseases.

Keywords: MicroRNA, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis B, Host-virus interaction, Biomarker, Therapy

Core tip: The cellular microRNAs (miRNAs) involved in host-hepatitis B virus (HBV) interaction and each stage of HBV-related disease show distinctive miRNA expression profiles at the tissue or serum level indicating that miRNAs have marked potential in detecting or treating of HBV infection.