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This article is the author's final published version in Diagnostics, Volume 13, Issue 9, 2023, Article number 1537.

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Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-host junction sequences (HBV-JSs) has been detected in the urine of patients with HBV infection. This study evaluated HBV-JSs as a marker of minimum residual disease (MRD) and tumor recurrence after treatment in HBV-hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Archived serial urine DNA from two HBV–HCC with recurrence as confirmed by MRI and four HBV-related cirrhosis (LC) patients were used. Urinary HBV-JSs were identified by an HBV-targeted NGS assay. Quantitative junction-specific PCR assays were developed to investigate dynamic changes of the most abundant urinary HBV-JS. Abundant urinary HBV-JSs were identified in two cases of tumor recurrence. In case 1, a 78-year-old female with HBV- HCC underwent a follow-up MRI following microwave ablation. While MRI results were variable, the unique HBV-JS DNA, HBV-Chr17, steadily increased from initial diagnosis to HCC recurrence. In case 2, a 74-year-old male with HBV–HCC contained two HBV-JS DNA, HBV-Chr11 and HBV-TERT, that steadily increased after initial HCC diagnosis till recurrence. One LC examined had HBV-TERT DNA detected, but transiently in 3.5 years during HCC surveillance. HBV-JS DNA was persistently elevated prior to the diagnosis of recurrent HCC, suggesting the potential of urinary HBV-JS DNA to detect MRD and HCC recurrence after treatment.

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