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Background: Tenofovir (TFV) is a widely used treatment for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. There is a high genetic barrier to the selection of TFV resistance-associated mutations (RAMs), but the distribution and clinical significance of TFV RAMs are not well understood. We here present assimilated evidence for putative TFV RAMs with the aims of cataloguing and characterising mutations that have been reported, and starting to develop insights into mechanisms of resistance. Methods: We carried out a systematic literature search in PubMed and Scopus to identify clinical, in vitro and in silico evidence of TFV resistance. We included peer-reviewed studies presenting original data regarding virological TFV breakthrough, using published methods to assess the quality of each study. We generated a list of RAMs that have been reported in association with TFV resistance, developing a ‘long-list’ (all reported RAMs) and a ‘short-list’ (a refined list supported by the most robust evidence). We assessed the potential functional and structural consequences by mapping onto the crystal structure for HIV reverse transcriptase (RT), as the structure of HBV RT has not been solved. Results: We identified a ‘long-list’ of 37 putative TFV RAMs in HBV RT, occurring within and outside sites of enzyme activity, some of which can be mapped onto a homologous HIV RT structure. A ‘short-list’ of nine sites are supported by the most robust evidence. If clinically significant resistance arises, it is most likely to be in the context of suites of multiple RAMs. Other factors including adherence, viral load, HBeAg status, HIV coinfection and NA dosage may also influence viraemic suppression. Conclusion: There is emerging evidence for polymorphisms that may reduce susceptibility to TVF. However, good correlation between viral sequence and treatment outcomes is currently lacking; further studies are essential to optimise individual treatment and public health approaches.

Original publication




Journal article


Wellcome Open Research


F1000 Research Ltd

Publication Date





151 - 151