Viruses (Dec 2022)

The Origin of Capsid-Derived Immune Complexes and Their Impact on HBV-Induced Liver Diseases

  • Xiaonan Zhang,
  • Yijie Tang,
  • Min Wu,
  • Cong Wang,
  • Lyuyin Hu,
  • Zhanqing Zhang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 12
p. 2766


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Over 240 million people worldwide are chronically infected with Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), a hepatotropic DNA virus with an evolutionary root of over 400 million years. Persistent HBV infection exhibits distinct and diverse phases of disease, from minimal liver pathology to fulminant Hepatitis, that vary in duration and severity among individuals. Although huge progress has been made in HBV research which has yielded an effective prophylactic vaccine and potent antiviral therapy, our understanding of its virology and immunobiology is still far from complete. For example, the recent re-discovery of serum HBV RNA in chronic Hepatitis B (CHB) patients has led to the proposal of noncanonical viral particles such as RNA virion and capsid-derived immune complex (Capsid-Antibody-Complexes, CACs) that contradict long-established basic theory. Furthermore, the existence of capsid-derived immune complex may hint at novel mechanism of HBV-induced liver disease. Here, we summarize the past and recent literature on HBV-induced immune complex. We propose that the release of capsid-derived particles by HBV has its deep evolutionary origin, and the associated complement activation serves as an indispensable trigger for intrahepatic damage and a catalyst for further cell-mediated immunopathology.