Molecular evolution and phylodynamics of hepatitis B virus infection circulating in Iran
Previous local and national Iranian publications indicate that all Iranian hepatitis B virus (HBV) strains belong to HBV genotype D. The aim of this study was to analyze the evolutionary history of HBV infection in Iran for the first time, based on an intensive phylodynamic study. The evolutionary parameters, time to most recent common ancestor (tMRCA), and the population dynamics of infections were investigated using the Bayesian Monte Carlo Markov chain (BMCMC). The effective sample size (ESS) and sampling convergence were then monitored. After sampling from the posterior distribution of the nucleotide substitution rate and other evolutionary parameters, the point estimations (median) of these parameters were obtained. All Iranian HBV isolates were of genotype D, sub-type ayw2. The origin of HBV is regarded as having evolved first on the eastern border, before moving westward, where Isfahan province then hosted the virus. Afterwards, the virus moved to the south and west of the country. The tMRCA of HBV in Iran was estimated to be around 1894, with a 95% credible interval between the years 1701 and 1957. The effective number of infections increased exponentially from around 1925 to 1960. Conversely, from around 1992 onwards, the effective number of HBV infections has decreased at a very high rate. Phylodynamic inference clearly demonstrates a unique homogenous pattern of HBV genotype D compatible with a steady configuration of the decreased effective number of infections in the population in recent years, possibly due to the implementation of blood donation screening and vaccination programs. Adequate molecular epidemiology databases for HBV are crucial for infection prevention and treatment programs.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
No conflict of interest to be declared.
Ethical conduct of research
The authors of this study have followed the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki for all human or animal experimental investigations.
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