Hepatitis D (HDV IgM), hepatitis D (HDV), hepatitis D antigen

Hepatitis D (hepatitis delta) is a disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV), a small spherical enveloped RNA virus. This is one of five known hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E. HDV is considered to be a subviral satellite because it can propagate only in the presence of the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Transmission of HDV can occur either via simultaneous infection with HBV (coinfection) or superimposed on chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis B carrier state (superinfection).

Both superinfection and coinfection with HDV results in more severe complications compared to infection with HBV alone. These complications include a greater likelihood of experiencing liver failure in acute infections and a rapid progression to liver cirrhosis, with an increased risk of developing liver cancer in chronic infections.[2] In combination with hepatitis B virus, hepatitis D has the highest fatality rate of all the hepatitis infections, at 20%.

A significant difference between viroids and HDV is that, while viroids produce no proteins, HDV is known to produce one protein, namely HDAg. It comes in two forms; a 27kDa large-HDAg, and a small-HDAg of 24kDa. The N-terminals of the two forms are identical, they differ by 19 more amino acids in the C-terminal of the large HDAg.[18] Both isoforms are produced from the same reading frame which contains an UAG stop codon at codon 196, which normally produces only the small-HDAg. However, editing by cellular enzyme adenosine deaminase-1 changes the stop codon to UCG, allowing the large-HDAg to be produced.

Despite having 90% identical sequences, these two proteins play diverging roles during the course of an infection. HDAg-S is produced in the early stages of an infection and enters the nucleus and supports viral replication. HDAg-L, in contrast, is produced during the later stages of an infection, acts as an inhibitor of viral replication, and is required for assembly of viral particles.

Thus RNA editing by the cellular enzymes is critical to the virus’ life cycle because it regulates the balance between viral replication and virion assembly.

  • Sample of blood serum
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