Journal Article

Prevalence of present and past hepatitis G virus infection in a French haemodialysis centre

Jean-François Desassis, Syria Laperche, Annie Girault, Anne Kolko, Françoise Bouchardeau, Brigitte Zins, Jean-Louis Poignet and Anne-Marie Couroucé

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 14, issue 11, pages 2692-2697
Published in print November 1999 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online November 1999 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Prevalence of present and past hepatitis G virus infection in a French haemodialysis centre

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Background. Previous studies, detecting GB virus-C (GBV-C) or hepatitis G virus (HGV) RNA by using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), have shown that haemodialysis (HD) patients had a high risk of being infected and viraemic with this virus. A past GBV-C/HGV contact can now be detected by testing for antibodies directed against the GBV-C/HGV envelope protein E2 (anti-E2).

Methods. In order to evaluate GBV-C/HGV contact, 120 patients undergoing chronic HD were tested for GBV-C/HGV RNA by RT-PCR and anti-E2 antibodies by ELISA. GBV-C/HGV viraemic patients were followed prospectively for 18 months, and retrospectively when sera were stored. The total follow-up was between 18 and 78 months.

Results. GBV-C/HGV RNA was detected in 17 patients (14%), and 18 patients (15%) had a significant level of anti-E2 antibodies. No positive anti-E2 specimens were also positive for GBV-C/HGV RNA and vice versa. A total of 35 patients (29%) were contaminated with GBV-C/HGV. Sixteen of the 17 viraemic patients had a persistent viraemia (follow-up 18–78 months) and one cleared the virus during the study period. A past or present GBV-C/HGV contact was statistically correlated with the duration of HD and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, but was independent of age, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level.

Conclusions. Twenty-nine per cent of patients who underwent HD in our centre have been infected by GBV-C/HGV, 49% were still viraemic and 51% have developed anti-E2 antibodies, indicating a past contact with GBV-C/HGV. Our results demonstrate that the prevalence of GBV-C/HGV contact in HD was underestimated when only RT-PCR was used. Therefore GBV-C/HGV contact is probably much more frequent in HD than previous studies would suggest and is at this time not correlated with hepatotoxicity. Anti-HCV antibodies blood screening since 1990 and recent changes in managing HD patients have probably reduced GBV-C/HGV contact in the same way.

Keywords: anti-E2 antibodies; GBV-C/HGV; haemodialysis; HCV; PCR

Journal Article.  4188 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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