Department of Internal Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr 52, D-20246, Hamburg, Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains a major health burden and the main risk factor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. However, HBV is not directly cytopathic and liver injury appears to be mostly caused by repeated attempts of the host's immune responses to control the infection. Recent studies have shown that the unique replication strategy adopted by HBV enables it to survive within the infected hepatocyte while complex virus-host interplays ensure the virus is able to fulfil its replication requirements yet is still able to evade important host antiviral innate immune responses. Clearer understanding of the host and viral mechanisms affecting HBV replication and persistence is necessary to design more effective therapeutic strategies aimed at improving the management of patients with chronic HBV infection to eventually achieve viral eradication. This article focuses on summarising the current knowledge of factors influencing the course of HBV infection, giving emphasis on the use of novel assays and quantitative serological and intrahepatic biomarkers as tools for predicting treatment response and disease progression.