Androgen boosts hepatitis B virus replication

February 16, 2012

Androgen enhances replication of hepatitis B virus (HBV), rendering males more vulnerable than females to this virus, according to research published in the February Journal of Virology.

“Our studies allowed us to understand the gender disparity of HBV carriers, and why this virus tends to cause more severe liver disease in men than in women,” says principal investigator James Ou of the University of Southern California.

The researchers found no difference between levels of virus in prepubescent male and female mice. However, post-puberty, levels in males exceeded those in , in some cases by more than double, says Ou. Subsequently castrating male mice reduced the viral load, but injecting castrated mice with an androgen agonist resulted in a rising viral load again.

In a third set of experiments, the researchers removed the androgen receptor by genetic knockout, once again abolishing the androgen’s effect on . Then they drilled down still further, discovering elements within the HBV genome which are recognized by the host’s activated androgen receptor, which then boosts viral gene expression and replication.

Epidemiologic studies have shown that men are three to seven times more likely than women to become HBV carriers, and male HBV carriers are more likely to develop cancer of the liver (hepatocellular carcinoma) than female carriers.

is one of the most important human pathogens,” says Ou. “Approximately 350 million people worldwide are chronically infected, and roughly one million die annually.”

HBV can be transmitted sexually, as well as via non-sterile needles, and perinatally. In areas where the virus is endemic, it is frequently transmitted among young children. It is present in blood (including menstrual blood), vaginal secretions, saliva, semen, breast milk, and to a lesser extent in other bodily fluids. A vaccine is available for HBV.

More information: Y. Tian, C.f. Kuo, W.-l. Chen, and J.-h.J. Ou, 2012. Enhancement of hepatitis B virus replication by androgen and its receptor in mice. J. Virol. 86:1904-1910.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.