Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(3):266-273. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10813 This issue

Research Paper

Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Traffic Plays a Crucial Role in Mother-to-Infant Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus

Yuan-Yong Xu1, †, Hui-Hui Liu2, †, Yan-Wei Zhong3, †, Chang Liu1, Yong Wang1, Lei-Li Jia1, Fei Qiao1,4, Xin-Xin Li1, Chuan-Fu Zhang1, Shen-Long Li1, Peng Li1, ✉, Hong-Bin Song1, ✉, Qiao Li5, ✉

1. Institute of Disease Control and Prevention, Academy of Military Medical Science, Beijing, China;
2. Department of Epidemiology, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China;
3. Pediatric Liver Disease Therapy Research Laboratory, 302 Hospital, Beijing, China;
4. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Children's Research Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA;
5. Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See for full terms and conditions.
Xu YY, Liu HH, Zhong YW, Liu C, Wang Y, Jia LL, Qiao F, Li XX, Zhang CF, Li SL, Li P, Song HB, Li Q. Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Traffic Plays a Crucial Role in Mother-to-Infant Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus. Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(3):266-273. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10813. Available from

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Graphic abstract

The role of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in HBV intrauterine infection is not fully defined. Particularly the origin of PBMCs in HBV-infected neonates remains to be addressed. We carried out a population-based nested case-control study by enrolling 312 HBsAg-positive mothers and their babies. PBMC HBV DNA as well as serum HBsAg and HBV DNA was tested in cohort entry samples. Totally, 45.5% (142/312) of the newborns were found to be infected with HBV in perinatal transmission. 119 mother-infant pairs were identified to be different in the genetic profile of maternal and fetal PBMCs by AS-PCR and hemi-nested PCR. Among them, 57.1% (68/119) of the maternal PBMCs in index cases were positive for HBV DNA while 83.8% (57/68) of the HBV DNA positive maternal PBMCs passed the placental barrier and entered the fetus. Furthermore, maternal PBMC HBV infection was significantly associated with newborn infants HBV infection. PBMC traffic from mother to fetus resulted in a 9.5-fold increased risk of HBV infection in PBMC HBV DNA positive newborn infants. These data indicate that maternal PBMCs infected with HBV contribute to HBV intrauterine infection of newborn infants via PBMC traffic from mother to fetus.

Keywords: Hepatitis B virus, mother-to-infant transmission, peripheral blood mononuclear cell, fetomaternal cellular traffic.