Published online Mar 21, 2020. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i11.1113
Peer-review started: December 20, 2019
First decision: January 12, 2020
Revised: March 4, 2020
Accepted: March 9, 2020
Article in press: March 9, 2020
Published online: March 21, 2020
Viruses can alter the expression of host microRNAs (MiRNA s) and modulate the immune response during a persistent infection. The dysregulation of host MiRNA s by hepatitis B virus (HBV) contributes to the proinflammatory and profibrotic changes within the liver. Multiple studies have documented the differential regulation of intracellular and circulating MiRNA s during different stages of HBV infection. Circulating MiRNA s found in plasma and/or extracellular vesicles can integrate data on viral-host interactions and on the associated liver injury. Hence, the detection of circulating MiRNA s in chronic HBV hepatitis could offer a promising alternative to liver biopsy, as their expression is associated with HBV replication, the progression of liver fibrosis, and the outcome of antiviral treatment. The current review explores the available data on miRNA involvement in HBV pathogenesis with an emphasis on their potential use as biomarkers for liver fibrosis.
Core tip: The current review analyses the available data on the role of microRNAs (MiRNA s) in the development and progression of liver fibrosis by focusing on their potential use as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for hepatitis B virus-infected patients. Cellular and circulating MiRNA s (in plasma or extracellular vesicles) offer a unique glimpse into the virus-host relationship and the pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis B virus infection. The differential regulation of intracellular and circulating MiRNA s during the natural and on treatment evolution of chronic hepatitis B is discussed.