Hepatitis D virus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The hepatitis D virus (HDV) relies on the helper hepatitis B virus (HBV) for the provision of its envelope, which consists of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). The RNA genome of HDV is a circular rod-like structure due to its extensive intramolecular base-pairing, HDV-RNA has ribozyme activity which includes autocatalytic cleavage and self-ligation properties, essential in virus replication via the rolling circle mechanism. Replication of the RNA is thought to be effected by cellular RNA polymerase II. Hepatitis D antigen (HDAg) is the only protein encoded by HDV-RNA and its long and short forms have a regulatory role in the replication and morphogenesis of the virus. Superinfected HBV carriers who become chronically infected with HDV are at increased risk of developing cirrhosis. Attempts to treat such carriers with interferon have not been particularly successful. In recent years the epidemiology of HDV has changed primarily due to the impact of HBV vaccination in preventing an increase in the pool of susceptible individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalReviews in Medical Virology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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