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The incidence and mortality of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HBV-HCC) is an intractable public health problem in developing countries that is compounded by limited early detection and therapeutic options. Despite the early promise of utilizing the regulatory role of miRNA in liver cancer, this field remains largely in the work-in-progress phase. This exploratory review paper adopts a broad focus in order to collate evidence of the regulatory role of miRNA in each stage of the HBV-HCC continuum. This includes the regulatory role of miRNA in early HBV infection, chronic inflammation, fibrosis/cirrhosis, and the onset of HCC. The paper specifically investigates HBV dysregulated miRNA that influence the expression of the host/HBV genome in HBV-HCC pathogenesis and fully acknowledges that this does not cover the full spectrum of dysregulated miRNA. The sheer number of dysregulated miRNA in each phase support a hypothesis that future therapeutic interventions will need to consider incorporating multiple miRNA panels.

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Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa.


Humans, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis B, Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, Liver Neoplasms, MicroRNAs, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Gene Expression Regulation, Viral