1Department of Medicine II, University Hospital of Freiburg, 79106, Freiburg, Germany.
Hepatitis B virus infection represents a major global health problem. Currently, there are more than 240 million chronically infected people worldwide. The development of chronic hepatitis B virus-mediated liver disease may lead to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and eventually hepatocellular carcinoma. Recently, the discovery of the viral entry receptor sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide has facilitated new approaches for a better understanding of viral physiopathology. Hopefully, these novel insights may give rise to the development of more effective antiviral therapy concepts during the next years. In this review, we will discuss the natural history of hepatitis B virus infection including the viral biology, the clinical course of infection and the role of the immune response.