Author(s): Yacoubi L, Brichler S, Mansour W, Le Gal F, Hammami W,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Tunisia is classified as an area of middle endemic for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, however little is known about hepatitis Delta virus (HDV) infection. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to address the prevalence of HDV infection, to identify possible risks factors, and to analyze the genetic diversity of HDV strains that are spreading in Tunisia. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective large-scale study including 1615 HBsAg positive patients, native of the North East coast of Tunisia, recruited from Gastroenterology departments, was conducted. Demographic, epidemiological, ethnical, clinical and biological data were recorded. HBV and HDV serological analyses and DNA and RNA viral load quantification were performed. Genotyping of HBV and HDV strains was performed using nucleotide sequencing followed by phylogenetic analyses. RESULTS: The study population included 819 (50.7\%) men and 796 (49.3\%) women; aged 12-90 years (mean age 41±13 years). A very low prevalence of HDV infection, 2\% was observed. No risk factor, except a history of hospitalization for surgery was found. All HDV strains belonged to genotype 1, with a wide distribution within the HDV-1 group. They all share the African amino acid marker, a serine at position 202 of the large Delta protein. HBV genotypes were distributed as follows: HBV/D1 (56.8\%), HBV/D7 (40.9\%), and HBV/A2 (2.3\%). CONCLUSION: Tunisia is a low endemic region for HDV infection, due to an efficient policy of HBV infection control. HDV-1 is the sole genotype found, with a high diversity within this group. Further studies are ongoing in order to better characterize and manage the HBV/HDV-infected patients according to the genetic variability of the viral strains. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Clin Virol
and referenced in Journal of Infectious Diseases and Diagnosis