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      Hepatitis G Virus Infection in Haemodialysis and in Peritoneal Dialysis Patients

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          The aim of this study was to detect hepatitis G virus RNA (HGV RNA) and antibodies against the virus envelope protein E2 (anti-E2) in 107 patients either on maintenance haemodialysis (n = 78) or peritoneal dialysis (n = 29) to evaluate the prevalence of HGV infection and to establish its role in liver disease. The total prevalence of HGV infection was of 15.4% among haemodialysis patients, whereas it was 10.3% among peritoneal dialysis patients. HGV RNA was detected in 2 haemodialysis patients (2.6%) and in 3 peritoneal dialysis patients (10.3%). Anti-E2 was found in 10 haemodialysis patients (7.8%), whilst all peritoneal dialysis patients resulted negative. In only 1 patient the alanine aminotransferase level was elevated. This patient underwent liver biopsy that did not reveal evidence of chronic hepatitis. The lower HGV prevalence in haemodialysis patients, when compared with data reported by other European authors, should be related to the lower rate of polytransfused patients in our series (29.5%). Multiple blood transfusions should be considered as the main factor to explain the different prevalence of HGV infection among various European dialysis centres. Detection of both antibody and viraemia is important to establish the real rate of the infection.

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          Most cited references 10

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          The incidence of transfusion-associated hepatitis G virus infection and its relation to liver disease.

          The role of hepatitis G virus (HGV) in transfusion-associated infection and its relation to liver disease are not well understood. Serum samples collected between 1972 and 1995 from 357 transfusion recipients, 157 controls who did not receive transfusions, 500 randomly selected volunteer blood donors, and 230 donors of blood received by HGV-infected patients were tested for HGV RNA by qualitative and quantitative polymerase-chain-reaction assays. Samples obtained before transfusion and serially after transfusion from 79 of the 81 transfusion recipients who had transfusion-associated non-A, non-B hepatitis were available for testing. Of the 79 patients with transfusion-associated hepatitis, 63 (80 percent) had infections related to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and 3 had preexisting HCV and the cause of their acute hepatitis could not be determined; of the remaining 13 patients, 3 had acute HGV infection, and 10 were infected with unidentified agents. Six of the 63 patients with HCV infection who were tested (10 percent) were also infected with HGV. The three patients infected only with HGV had mild hepatitis (mean peak alanine aminotransferase level, 198 U per liter; none had jaundice); the levels of alanine aminotransferase and HGV RNA were not well correlated. The combined HCV and HGV infections were no more severe than HCV infections alone; the alanine aminotransferase values paralleled the levels of HCV RNA, but not those of HGV RNA. There were 35 HGV infections among the 357 transfusion recipients; only 3 had hepatitis with HGV as the sole viral marker. One of the 157 controls and 7 of the 500 randomly selected blood donors (1.4 percent) had detectable HGV RNA. In all eight instances in which a transfusion recipient had acute HGV infection after transfusion and samples from all donors could be tested, at least one HGV-positive donor was identified. HGV was common in a group of volunteer blood donors, and it can be transmitted by transfusion. Most HGV infections were not associated with hepatitis. HGV did not worsen the course of concurrent HCV infection. No causal relation between HGV and hepatitis has been established.
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            Infection with hepatitis GB virus C in patients on maintenance hemodialysis.

            A recently discovered non-A-E hepatitis virus has been designated hepatitis GB virus C (HGBV-C), but little is known about its mode of transmission and its clinical manifestations. We studied 519 patients on maintenance hemodialysis to determine whether they were infected with HGBV-C. HGBV-C RNA was identified in serum by a reverse-transcription-polymerase-chain-reaction assay with nested primers deduced from a non-structural region. A nucleotide sequence of 100 bp in the nonstructural region was determined on HGBV-C clones. HGBV-C RNA was detected on 3.1 percent of the patients on hemodialysis (16 of 519), as compared with 0.9 percent of healthy blood donors (4 of 448, P<0.03). None of the 16 patients had evidence of active liver disease, although 7 were also infected with hepatitis C virus. Eight patients with HGBV-C infection were followed for 7 to 16 years. In two patients the virus was present at the start of hemodialysis. One had a history of transfusion, and HGBV-C persisted over a period of 16 years; the other became free of HGBV-C after 10 years. In five patients, HGBV-C RNA was first detected 3 to 20 weeks after blood transfusion and persisted for up to 13 years. One patient with no history of transfusion was infected with an HGBV-C variant with the same sequence as in two of the patients with post-transfusion HGBV-C infections. Patients on maintenance hemodialysis are at increased risk for HGBV-C infection. This virus produces persistent infections, which may be transmitted by transfusions but may also be transmitted by other means.
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              Detection of the GBV-C hepatitis virus genome in serum from patients with fulminant hepatitis of unknown aetiology.

              Hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E have not accounted for all cases of hepatitis, hence "non A-E" agent(s) might be implicated. A set of new viruses (GBV-A, -B, and -C) whose genomes have been sequenced, are being investigated as possible causes of non A-E hepatitis. We investigated six cases of fulminant hepatitis of unknown aetiology for the presence of GBV-C genome in their serum, and three showed positive signals by semi-nested PCR using primers derived from the NS3/helicase region. Nucleotide sequence analyses confirmed these signals to be derived from a GBV-C sequence. The results suggest the importance of GBV-C in the aetiology of fulminant hepatitis.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                May 1999
                28 April 1999
                : 82
                : 1
                : 17-21
                Department of Internal Medicine, aGastroenterology and bNephrology Units, University of Genoa, Italy
                45362 Nephron 1999;82:17–21
                © 1999 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Tables: 3, References: 36, Pages: 5
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