Viral replication in patients with concomitant hepatitis B and C virus infections
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The aim of this study was to assess the implications of dual infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). The HBV and HCV status in 100 patients with chronic hepatitis was analysed. HBV DNA was studied using liquid hybridization and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). HCV viremia was measured using qualitative and quantitative PCR. The HCV genotype was determined by PCR. Patients were divided into three groups according to their HCV-RNA and HBsAg status: group I consisted of 40 patients with chronic hepatitis caused by HBV; group II, 40 patients with chronic hepatitis caused by HCV; and group III, 20 patients infected with both viruses. The HBV-DNA level was higher in group I than in group III (66.4 vs. 11.5 pg/ml; p<0.05). Quantification of HCV viremia revealed mean values of 36.9 copies × 105/ml in group II and 5.5 copies/ml × 105 in group III (p<0.05). The mean aminotransferase level and histological activity were higher in group III. HCV genotype 1b was the predominant type. The data suggest that there is reciprocal inhibition of viral replication in patients with dual HBV and HCV infection. Liver disease appears to be more severe in patients with chronic hepatitis B and C.
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