Mannose binding lectin (MBL) is a pattern-recognition molecule of the innate immune system. The roles of MBL and its gene (mbl2) polymorphisms, - 221X/Y and codon 54A/B, in hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection were investigated in this study. We recruited 320 nonprogressed hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers; 199 progressed HBsAg carriers with hepatocellular carcinoma or cirrhosis; 87 spontaneously recovered individuals who were HBsAg negative and anti-HBs and anti HBc positive; and 484 controls who were naïve to HBV. There was no significant difference between nonprogressed carriers, spontaneously recovered individuals, and controls in terms of serum MBL levels and mbl2 polymorphisms distributions. However, the low MBL genotypes had a dose-dependent correlation with the cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in progressed carriers with odds ratios of 1.36 and 3.21 for the low and extremely low MBL genotypes, respectively (P = .01). The low-expression promoter haplotype XA (OR = 1.97) and the mutant haplotype YB (OR = 1.90) were also associated with the cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (P = .002). As expected, the lower serum MBL levels in progressed carriers as compared with nonprogressed carriers were due to an overrepresentation of low and extremely low MBL genotypes. Moreover, MBL could bind HBsAg in a dose- and calcium-dependent and mannan-inhibitable manner in vitro, suggesting that binding occurs via the carbohydrate recognition domains. This binding also enhanced C4 deposition. In conclusion, these results suggest that low MBL genotypes associate with the occurrence of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in progressed HBsAg carriers, and MBL can bind HBsAg.
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