Pregnant Patients With HBV May Be Assessed via HBV Total RNA

In pregnant patients with chronic hepatitis B, hepatitis B virus (HBV) total RNA may help monitor liver disease and viral replication during pregnancy, according to results published in the Journal of Clinical Virology.

The study included pregnant and postpartum participants with chronic hepatitis B (n=46). The researchers collected serum and plasma from each participant as well as clinical data on demographics, HBV e antigen (HBeAg) status, quantitative hepatitis B s antigen (qHBsAg) levels, HBV DNA, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), postpartum liver stiffness measurement, and treatment regimen. The researchers used in-house assays to quantify serum HBV total RNA and pre-genomic RNA. They used direct population sequencing of HBV surface gene to determine HBV genotype.

The results indicated that HBV DNA, qHBsAg, and ALT levels were comparable between participants who were pregnant and those who were post-partum. Participants who were pregnant had higher serum HBV total RNA levels and lower serum HBV pre-genomic RNA levels compared with those who were postpartum.

The researchers found that HBeAg status correlated with HBV DNA, serum HBV total RNA, and qHBsAg levels during pregnancy. For postpartum participants, the researchers found that HBeAg status correlated with HBV DNA and serum HBV total RNA.

The results indicated that serum HBV total RNA levels correlated with HBeAg status, HBV DNA, qHBsAg, ALT, and liver stiffness measurement, whereas serum HBV pre-genomic RNA did not (P <.05).

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“This suggests that serum HBV total RNA has the potential to serve as a complementary HBV biomarker to monitor and assess HBV replication and liver disease in pregnant [chronic hepatitis B] carriers,” the researchers concluded.


Patel NH, Joshi SS, Lau KCK, Castillo E, Coffin CS. Analysis of serum hepatitis B virus RNA levels in a multiethnic cohort of pregnant chronic hepatitis B carriers. J Clin Virol. 2019;111:42-47.