Of many viral causes of human cancer, few are of greater global importance than the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Over 250 million people worldwide are persistently infected with HBV. A significant minority of these develop severe pathologic consequences, including chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Earlier epidemiological evidence suggested a link between chronic HBV infection and HCC. Further, the existence of related animal viruses that induce acute and chronic infections of the liver, and eventually HCC, confirms the concept that HBV belongs to one of the few human oncogenic viruses. Although it is clear that chronic HBV infections are major risk factors, relatively little is understood about how the viral factors contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis. This review will introduce molecular aspects of the viral infection, and highlight recent findings on the viral contribution to hepatocarcinogenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology