26 Ago Correlation between the hepatic expression of human microRNA hsa-miR-125a-5p and the progression of fibrosis in patients with overt and occult HBV infection.
Background. hsa-miR-125a-5p, a microRNA expressed in human liver, was shown to inhibit the expression of HBsAg in vitro. Aims. To correlate the hepatic expression pattern of hsa-miR-125a-5p with the concentrations of HBV-DNA in liver tissue and the progression of fibrosis in 74 consecutive patients with overt or occult HBV infection. Methods. We enrolled all the consecutive HBsAg positive treatment naive patients who underwent a diagnostic liver biopsy (overt HBV group) between April 2007 and April. Moreover, of the 68 HBsAg negative patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who underwent liver biopsy in the same period, those with a positive HBV-DNA in liver tissue were enrolled (occult HBV group). Tissue concentrations of HBV-DNA and hsa-miR-125a-5p were analysed. Results. 64 HBsAg positive and 10 HBsAg negative patients were included in the study. In the overt HBV group, 54.7% showed a mild fibrosis, 26.6% a moderate fibrosis, while the remaining 18.7% had a cirrhosis. All patients in the occult HBV group were cirrhotic. Liver concentrations of miR-125a-5p were significantly higher in patients with cirrhosis as compared to patients with mild (p=0.0002) or moderate fibrosis (p=0.0006), and were moderately higher in occult than in overt HBV infection. (p=0.09). Moreover we found an inverse correlation, although not statistically significant, between the tissue HBV-DNA levels and the staging of fibrosis. Conclusions. This study demonstrates a strong correlation between the tissue expression of hsa-miR-125a-5p and the progression of liver damage in a group of patients with occult or overt HBV infection. However, further studies are needed to investigate the role of this mirna in the pathogenesis of HBV infection.