28 April 1999
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.