Copyright ©The Author(s) 2020. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Mar 21, 2020; 26(11): 1113-1127
Published online Mar 21, 2020. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i11.1113
Circulating microRNAs as non-invasive biomarkers for hepatitis B virus liver fibrosis
Diana Gabriela Iacob, Adelina Rosca, Simona Maria Ruta
Diana Gabriela Iacob, Infectious Diseases Department, "Carol Davila" University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest 050474, Romania
Diana Gabriela Iacob, Bucharest Emergency University Hospital, Bucharest 050098, Romania
Adelina Rosca, Simona Maria Ruta, Virology Department, Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest 050474, Romania
Adelina Rosca, Simona Maria Ruta, Viral Emerging Diseases Department, Ștefan S. Nicolau Institute of Virology, Bucharest 030304, Romania
Author contributions: All authors contributed equally to this paper with conception and design of the study, literature review and analysis, drafting and critical revision and editing, and approval of the final version.
Supported by Ministerul Cercetarii si Inovarii, Programul 1, subprogramul 1.2. Performanta institutionala, No. PFE_23/2018.
Conflict-of-interest statement: Authors declare no conflict of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Simona Maria Ruta, MD, PhD, Professor, Senior Researcher, Virology Chair, Virology Department, Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Eroii Sanitari 8, Bucharest 050474, Romania.
Received: December 20, 2019
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.

Keywords: Hepatitis B virus, MicroRNA, Noncoding RNA, Liver fibrosis, Viral hepatitis, Non-invasive biomarkers, Extracellular vesicles, Hepatitis management

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.