Estrogen suppresses hepatitis B virus expression in male athymic mice transplanted with HBV transfected Hep G-2 cells

Yaniv Almog, Athalia Klein, Ruth Adler, Orgad Laub, Ran Tur-Kaspa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Hormones are known to regulate both viral and cellular genes. It has been shown previously that estrogen has an effect on liver gene transcription and mRNA stability. Sex hormones might have a role in the chronic persistence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. In fact, there is a male preponderance in the incidence of chronic HBV infection, and HBsAg expression was reported to be much higher in male transgenic mice than in the females. We investigated the effect of estrogen on HBV gene expression and regulation in athymic mice bearing 2.2.15 cells, a human hepatoblastoma cell line derived from Hep G-2 transfected with HBV sequences. Both male and female mice were treated with estradiol after tumors could be observed. Episomal DNA was extracted from the tumors and hybridized with 32P-labelled HBV DNA. Southern blot and slot blot analyses demonstrated that male mice had higher expression of HBV DNA. Estrogen treatment suppressed HBV DNA expression in males, but had only a minor effect on females. HBeAg production in male mice was also inhibited by estrogen treatment. HBV RNA extracted from 2.2.15 cells showed 2-3-fold reduction following β-estradiol treatment. Moreover, inhibition of HBV transcription by estrogen was demonstrated by an RNA pulse-labelling experiment. These data indicate that estrogen inhibits HBV expression in the in vivo model presented in this study. These results might contribute to a better understanding of the effect of sex hormones on the pathogenesis of HBV-induced liver disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalAntiviral Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Estrogen
  • Gene expression
  • Hepatitis B virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Virology


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