Hepatitis D virus infection, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in The Gambia

Parag Mahale, Peter Aka, Xiaohua Chen, Ruth M. Pfeiffer, Ping Liu, Sarah Groover, Maimuna Mendy, Ramou Njie, James J. Goedert, Gregory D. Kirk, Jeffrey S. Glenn, Thomas R. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) incidence is high in The Gambia, and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is the main cause. People coinfected with HBV and hepatitis D virus (HDV) have an even greater risk of HCC and cirrhosis. Using a new HDV quantitative microarray antibody capture (Q-MAC) assay, we evaluated the association between HDV infection and HCC or cirrhosis among participants in The Gambia Liver Cancer Study. In this case-control study, cases had HCC (n = 312) or cirrhosis (n = 119). Controls (n = 470) had no clinical evidence of liver disease and normal serum alpha-foetoprotein. Participants were previously tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg); we tested HBsAg+ specimens by HDV Q-MAC, western blot and RNA assays. We evaluated separate cut-offs of the Q-MAC assay for predicting anti-HDV and RNA positivity. Q-MAC correctly identified 29/29 subjects who were western blot-positive (sensitivity = 100%, specificity = 99.4%) and 16/17 who were RNA-positive (sensitivity = 94.1%, specificity = 100%). Compared to controls, cases more often had HBV monoinfection (HBsAg+/HDV RNA−; 54.1% vs 17.0%; odds ratio [OR] = 6.28; P < 0.001) or HBV-HDV coinfection (HBsAg+/HDV RNA+; 3.9% vs 0%; P < 0.001). Risk estimates (for HCC or cirrhosis) based on HDV antibody status and adjusted for covariates (demographics, alcohol, smoking, body mass index, anti-HCV and aflatoxin B1 exposure) yielded consistent results for both HBV monoinfection (adjusted OR = 8.29; 95% confidence interval = 5.74-11.98) and HBV-HDV coinfection (adjusted OR = 30.66; 95% confidence interval = 6.97-134.95). In this Gambian population, HDV Q-MAC had high sensitivity and specificity for both anti-HDV and HDV RNA. HDV infection contributed to the high risk of HCC in The Gambia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-749
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Viral Hepatitis
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • epidemiology
  • hepatitis B virus
  • hepatitis D virus
  • hepatocellular carcinoma


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