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Hepatitis B and Hepatitis D Viruses: A Comprehensive Update with an Immunological Focus
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis delta virus (HDV) are highly prevalent viruses estimated to infect approximately 300 million people and 12-72 million people worldwide, respectively. HDV requires the HBV envelope to establish a successful infection. Concurrent infection with HBV and HDV can result in more severe disease outcomes than infection with HBV alone. These viruses can cause significant hepatic disease, including cirrhosis, fulminant hepatitis, and hepatocellular carcinoma, and represent a significant cause of global mortality. Therefore, a thorough understanding of these viruses and the immune response they generate is essential to enhance disease management. This review includes an overview of the HBV and HDV viruses, including life cycle, structure, natural course of infection, and histopathology. A discussion of the interplay between HDV RNA and HBV DNA during chronic infection is also included. It then discusses characteristics of the immune response with a focus on reactions to the antigenic hepatitis B surface antigen, including small, middle, and large surface antigens. This paper also reviews characteristics of the immune response to the hepatitis D antigen (including small and large antigens), the only protein expressed by hepatitis D. Lastly, we conclude with a discussion of recent therapeutic advances pertaining to these viruses.
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