AbstractBACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: To investigate the prevalence and evolution of hepatitis G virus (HGV) infection in hemophiliacs and to correlate evolution of HGV infection markers with immunologic parameters in those patients co-infected with HIV. DESIGN AND METHODS: HGV RNA and anti-E2 antibodies were studied in 124 patients. Serial samples were drawn every 4 months from 1992 to 1996. Lymphocyte subsets including T-helper lymphocytes, T-suppressor lymphocytes, T-cytotoxic lymphocytes, activated T-lymphocytes and natural killer cells were analyzed. RESULTS: Prevalences were 22.6% for HGV RNA and 18.5% for anti-E2. Four patients had both HGV RNA and anti E2, so the overall prevalence of HGV infection in hemophiliacs was 37.9% (11.5% in 200 controls, p<0.0001). After a median follow-up of 36.6 months 20 patients remained HGV RNA positive, whereas HGV RNA had cleared in 8, with an actuarial probability of clearance at 36 months of 34.6%. Only 2 patients developed anti-E2 antibodies. Four patients cleared anti-E2, with an actuarial probability at 36 months of 24.8%. In patients with HIV infection, both lower CD4+ lymphocyte count (p=0.01) or higher CD8+ lymphocyte count (p=0.03) showed predictive value for probability of clearing HGV-RNA. CD4+/CD8+ ratio (p=0.002) was the only variable included in the best model for HGV-RNA disappearance. INTERPRETATION AND CONCLUSIONS: A more accurate estimation of the prevalence of HGV infection can be achieved with the determination of both HGV RNA and anti-E2. Anti-E2 response can be undetectable or transitory after disappearance of HGV-RNA, giving therefore rise to the possibility of underestimating HGV prevalence with currently diagnostic methods. In HIV-positive patients, cellular immune function seems to be involved in the resolution of HGV infection, following the significant correlation found between clearance of HGV-RNA and CD4+/CD8+ lymphocyte populations.
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Vol. 84 No. 10 (1999): October, 1999 : Articles
Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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