Seronegative Hepatitis C Virus Infection

  • Justyna Kaźmierczak
  • Agnieszka Pawełczyk
  • Kamila Caraballo Cortes
  • Marek Radkowski
Open Access
Review

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of liver disease worldwide. The routine diagnostics identifying HCV infection include testing for specific anti-HCV antibodies by enzyme-linked immnunosorbent assay and viral genetic material in serum or plasma. However, a small proportion of patients persistently infected with HCV, in whom anti-HCV are undetectable, constitute a serious diagnostic and possibly epidemiologic problem, as they could facilitate pathogen spread in the population. This type of infection is termed seronegative or serosilent. Seronegative HCV infection is currently of great interest to both scientists and physicians. The review presents epidemiological data concerning the prevalence of seronegative HCV infection in HIV/HCV co-infected individuals, hemodialysis patients, and blood and organ donors. The possible mechanisms behind this atypical course of infection are discussed. Furthermore, the differences between seronegative and occult infections and prolonged seroconversion are explained.

Keywords

HCV Anti-HCV HCV RNA Seronegative infection Diagnostics 

Abbreviations

EIA

Enzyme immunoassay

ELISA

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay

HCV

Hepatitis C virus

HCV RNA

Hepatitis C viral genetic material

HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus

PBMC

Peripheral blood mononuclear cells

RIBA

Recombinant immunoblot assay

PCR

Polymerase chain reaction

Introduction

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an etiologic factor of acute and chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (Flisiak et al. 2011; Hu and Tong 1999). The estimated number of humans infected with the virus reaches 170 million worldwide including 0.7 million in Poland (Flisiak et al. 2011; Zagożdżon et al. 2009). Although HCV is a primary hepatotropic pathogen, its replication has been demonstrated in other cells, most notably in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and macrophages (Azzari et al. 2008; Chary et al. 2012; Laskus et al. 2000, 2004; Page et al. 2010; Revie and Salahuddin 2011; Zayed et al. 2010).

Diagnostic criteria for hepatitis C virus infection include the presence of anti-HCV antibodies and viral genetic material (HCV RNA) in blood serum. However, in some patients, the anti-HCV antibodies are absent despite the persistent presence of HCV RNA. Such status is termed “seronegative” or “serosilent” HCV infection and may be associated with clinical conditions such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection, hemodialysis and organ transplantation, but sporadically it is also seen in blood donors and other patients (Brojer et al. 2001; Schneeberger et al. 1998; Thomson et al. 2009; Tugwell et al. 2005).

Seronegative HCV infection represents a serious clinical and epidemiological problem and the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying this condition are poorly understood.

Hepatitis C Virus Diagnostics

Routinely used diagnostic methods for HCV infection are based on the detection of anti-HCV antibodies and HCV RNA in blood serum (Pawlotsky et al. 1998). At present, antibodies are detected by third-generation enzyme immunoassay (EIA) or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using recombinant core and non-structural proteins NS3, NS4 and NS5 HCV (Albeldawi et al. 2010; Mondelli et al. 2005; Muñoz Espinosa 2002). To confirm positive serological test result, recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA) test was routinely used (Pawlotsky et al. 1998; Van der Poel et al. 1991). However, molecular tests verifying the presence of HCV RNA are currently recommended (Tuaillon et al. 2010). The main limitation of diagnostic tests, based on the detection of antibodies (ELISA, RIBA), is lack of HCV infection identification during the serological window phase, i.e., during the period when the antibody level is below the detection limit of these tests (Nübling et al. 2002). This period ranges from 6 weeks (Morand et al. 2001; Thomson 2009) to 9 months (Arrojo et al. 2003), but is usually no longer than 12 weeks (Lauer and Walker 2001; Schreiber et al. 1996). It should be noted that some individuals with immunosuppression need even more time to seroconvert. Currently used tests with improved sensitivity have narrowed the serological window period following a primary acute-phase infection. The challenge is how to interpret partial or incomplete antibody seroconversions characterized by indeterminate test results on supplemental immunoblot assays (Carreño et al. 2012).

In contrast, HCV genetic material may be detected by means of molecular methods (NAT-nucleic acid testing) as early as 7–10 days post-infection (Schröter et al. 1997; Takedai et al. 2008). They include qualitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA) and quantitative bDNA assay (branched-chain amplification) and real-time PCR (Scott and Gretch 2007).

Molecular methods are characterized by high specificity and sensitivity (detection limit up to 5 IU/mL); (Ross et al. 2001; Scott and Gretch 2007). In contrast to serological methods, molecular tests enable detection of viral infection during the very early phase (serological window period). They are used to confirm HCV infection, measure viral load and determine viral genotype necessary for treatment decisions. Finally, they allow monitoring the effectiveness of antiviral treatment (Higuchi et al. 2002; Stapleton et al. 1999).

Pathogenesis of Seronegative HCV Infection

In most cases, both anti-HCV antibodies and HCV RNA are detectable in serum (Lok and Gunaratnam 1997; Pondé 2013). However, in some subjects anti-HCV antibodies are not detectable, even during the late infection phase. Reasons for this unusual condition may be delayed seroconversion (longer than 3 months post-infection), which sometimes may be prolonged to several years (Stapleton et al. 1999). The latter phenomenon is frequently found in patients with immune dysfunctions (immunosuppression) and intravenous drug users (Arrojo et al. 2003; Beld et al. 1999). In the latter group, anti-HCV antibodies may become detectable after superinfection with a different HCV genotype strain (Beld et al. 1999).

It is likely that prolonged or delayed seroconversion period may be due to low HCV viral load levels not sufficient for effective stimulation of the immune system. Low HCV antigen levels were reported to be a cause of weak recognition of the viral antigens by T helper cells and, consequently, low or absent B cell response (Mientjes et al. 1991).

The seronegative HCV infection due to the lack of production of specific anti-HCV antibodies is different from the situation in which the antibodies are synthesized and present in the blood, but in amounts not detectable by routinely used diagnostic tests. For instance, the sensitivity of third-generation EIA test is 97–99.9 %, which is very high but not complete (Ellethy et al. 2012).

Another reason for seronegativity may be the presence of immune complexes of antibodies and viral antigens, resulting in very low levels of free, circulating antibodies. This may occur in patients with relatively low anti-HCV response with simultaneous massive virus replication and antigen production. To overcome this problem, procedures for dissociation of immune complexes to “liberate” antibodies are available, although they are not routinely employed (Alnaqy et al. 2006; Pawlotsky et al. 1996; Troisi and Hollinger 1997).

While the majority of studies concerning seronegative HCV infection are focused on patients displaying immune dysfunctions, such as hypogammaglobulinemia (George et al. 2002; Post et al. 2004; Rossi et al. 1997), subjects co-infected with HIV or transplant organ recipients (Bonacini et al. 2001; Larouche et al. 2012; Wright et al. 1994), some authors suggested that inherent properties of particular HCV strains may be responsible. Thus, seronegative HCV infection may be a result of the presence of viral antigenic variants which stimulate the production of antibodies not recognized in standard serologic tests (Alnaqy et al. 2006; Pawlotsky et al. 1996). Moreover, some HCV strains may evade host immune responses or directly infect cells of the immune system (T and B cells); (Larouche et al. 2012; Sarhan et al. 2012). Genetic predispositions or defects affecting humoral responses against HCV were also suggested (Alnaqy et al. 2006; Larouche et al. 2012; Pawlotsky et al. 1996). Finally, it was also documented that seronegative infection may develop as a result of immune tolerance to HCV antigens, acquired in early life through vertical HCV transmission (Larouche et al. 2012).

Epidemiology of Seronegative HCV Infection

The majority of epidemiological studies of seronegative HCV infection refer to HIV co-infected individuals, hemodialyzed patients, and organ and blood donors. The prevalence of this phenomenon is summarized in Table 1.
Table 1

The prevalence of seronegative HCV infection

Population

Seronegative HCV infection (%)

References

HIV/HCV co-infected individuals

3.2–13.2

Bonacini et al. (2001), Chamie et al. (2007), George et al. (2002), Hadlich et al. (2007)

Hemodialyzed patients

1–15

Carneiro et al. (2001), Fabrizi et al. (1999), Hanuka et al. (2002), Schröter et al. (1997)

Organ donors

0.2–0.9

Aswad et al. 2005, Challine et al. 2004, Legler et al. 2000

Blood donors

0.0004–0.08

Brojer 2005, Seyfried et al. 2005, Stramer et al. 2004

HIV/HCV Co-Infection

The concomitant infection with HIV and HCV is common, particularly among intravenous drug users and hemophiliacs, and ranges at 7–85 % (George et al. 2002; Vachon et al. 2008). For this reason, all HIV-infected patients should be monitored for the presence of anti-HCV antibodies (Hadlich et al. 2007; Vachon et al. 2008).

Some HCV RNA-positive HIV co-infected patients remain anti-HCV negative long after exposure. The lack of anti-HCV seroconversion in these patients is believed to be due to immune dysfunction secondary to HIV infection (Chamie et al. 2007; Sorbi et al. 1996).

In a pooled analysis of four studies, the frequency of HCV RNA positivity and concomitant absence of anti-HCV antibodies among HIV-infected patients was 3.2 % (Chamie et al. 2007); in one study, it was reported to be as high as 13.2 % (Bonacini et al. 2001; George et al. 2002; Hadlich et al. 2007). Seronegative HCV infection in HIV-infected individuals is more common in patients with CD4+ cells count below 100/μL and more advanced immunodeficiency (Hadlich et al. 2007). Among intravenous drug users exhibiting increased levels of alanine aminotransferase activity and decrease of CD4+ cells counts below 200/μL, the prevalence of seronegative infection is as high as 24 % (Chamie et al. 2007). This indicates that molecular techniques should be widely employed as first-line diagnostic methods, especially among patients with elevated activity of liver enzymes (George et al. 2002).

Hemodialyzed Patients

Hemodialyzed patients are a high-risk group for parenterally transmitted infections, including HCV infection. Immune dysfunctions are common among these patients and include aberrant B cell activation resulting in delayed synthesis of antibodies and/or their low levels in blood (Fabrizi et al. 2012; Schneeberger et al. 2000). It is estimated that 1–60 % of hemodialyzed patients are HCV infected (Hanuka et al. 2002; Kelley et al. 2002). The presence of HCV RNA among seronegative patients is found in 1–15 % of the cases (Carneiro et al. 2001; Fabrizi et al. 1999; Hanuka et al. 2002; Schröter et al. 1997).

The high prevalence of seronegative HCV infections in this group of patients warrants wider use of molecular tests for diagnostic purposes.

Organ and Blood Donors

Despite many precautions and procedures reducing the transmission of infections, organ transplantation still carries a risk of HCV infection. Among anti-HCV negative organ donors, HCV RNA is detectable in less than 1 % (0.2–0.9 %); (Aswad et al. 2005; Challine et al. 2004); however, immune dysfunction present in transplant recipients entails an increased risk of infection. Molecular testing for HCV RNA and viral core antigen are not routinely performed in organ donor candidates, mostly because of high costs and complex diagnostic procedures (Challine et al. 2004). However, since a single donor can be a source of graft material for multiple recipients, the prospective donors should be carefully screened for HCV infection with molecular methods (Tugwell et al. 2005).

According to different sources, the frequency of seronegative HCV infection among blood donors in developed countries ranges at 0.0004–0.08 % (Brojer 2005; Legler et al. 2000; Seyfried et al. 2005; Stramer et al. 2004). One of the most important means to control the spread of HCV infection is molecular testing of donors’ blood (Brojer 2005; Letowska et al. 2009). Detection of anti-HCV antibodies in blood donors has been introduced in the early 1990s of the last century (Seyfried et al. 2005).

Molecular testing, aimed at the detection of HCV infection, was widely criticized for its high cost. However, since the year 2000 it is obligatory in the majority of countries, including Poland (Alnaqy et al. 2006; Brojer 2005; Challine et al. 2004). Its introduction for each blood collection significantly increased the safety of blood and blood-derived product transfusion (Alnaqy et al. 2006; Brojer 2005). For economic reasons, pooled testing of plasma collected from donors (48 or more) has been routinely performed. In case HCV RNA is detected in the pooled specimens, the individual samples are tested separately. Currently used procedures recommend performing molecular testing of single samples; however, there are variations depending on the laboratory and kits employed. It should be stressed that “dilution” of material when mixing multiple samples may lead to false-negative results especially when single HCV-positive sample with low viremia is present in the pool (Brojer 2005). One can expect that simplification and cost reduction of molecular tests will promote their universal use.

Specific Memory Cells in HCV Infection

Potent CD4+ and CD8+ cellular responses specific to HCV antigens may lead to virus elimination (Bertoletti and Ferrari 2003; Chang 2003; Meyer et al. 2007; Thimme et al. 2001; Zhang et al. 2009). It was demonstrated that individuals eliminating HCV infection display stronger T cell responses than those chronically infected (Lauer and Walker 2001; Lechner et al. 2000; Meyer et al. 2007; Urbani et al. 2006). Strong and long-lasting CD4+ and CD8+ responses are present in more than 80 % of patients who cleared HCV infection (Zhang et al. 2009). T cell responses may persist as long as 20 years after viral clearance providing evidence of past HCV infection (Takaki et al. 2000; Wedemeyer et al. 2002).

Specific cellular responses were also observed among high-risk groups for HCV infection and/or subjects exposed to HCV who remained persistently negative for HCV RNA and anti-HCV antibodies. Examples include sexual partners and family members of HCV-infected patients and laboratory workers (Bronowicki et al. 1997; Koziel et al. 1997; Scognamiglio et al. 1999). These cases may represent specific immune memory after a subclinical course of infection and subsequent spontaneous viral clearance (Scognamiglio et al. 1999).

The absence of specific anti-HCV antibodies and HCV RNA in subjects displaying specific cellular responses may be a result of exposure dose that was insufficient to induce viral hepatitis or even trigger humoral response. Broad cellular responses to many HCV antigens were also found in seronegative prisoners who were transiently HCV RNA positive in blood, but eventually cleared the infection. It was also suggested that the absence of anti-HCV antibodies could be a consequence of massive cytotoxic T responses directed against virus-infected B cells (Scognamiglio et al. 1999).

According to some studies, HCV elimination is not necessarily the result of strong cellular responses, as some patients who spontaneously cleared the virus showed weak or even absent CD4+ and CD8+ responses against viral antigens (Meyer et al. 2007).

Occult HCV Infection

“Occult HCV infection” is characterized by the absence of anti-HCV antibodies and HCV RNA in the blood with concomitant presence of viral genetic material in hepatocytes and elevated activity of liver enzymes indicating an ongoing inflammatory process in the liver (Castillo et al. 2004; Comar et al. 2006; Esaki et al. 2004; Quiroga et al. 2006, 2009). The term “occult HCV infection” is also sometimes used in case of individuals who cleared HCV infection, but display the presence of HCV RNA in liver tissue and anti-HCV antibodies in serum (Carreño 2006). The latter should perhaps be considered a particular clinical representation of chronic HCV infection characterized by low replication, or a late stage of infection directly preceding viral elimination.

Typical features of occult HCV infection include lower liver enzymes activity and lower percentage of infected hepatocytes than is typical for clinically overt infection (Pardo et al. 2007). Most patients with occult HCV infection display specific CD4+ and CD8+ responses and, surprisingly, their memory T cell activation is much more frequent than in those with typical clinical course. It is suspected that these cells may be involved in viral replication control to undetectable levels (Quiroga et al. 2006).

The estimated frequency of occult HCV infection among patients displaying hepatic dysfunction may be as high as 57 % (Castillo et al. 2004). In the majority of them HCV RNA is also present in PBMC (70 %), and in over half of the latter (61 %) markers of active viral replication were detected in this extrahepatic compartment (Castillo et al. 2004, 2005).

Due to the difficulties in detecting occult HCV infection with standard laboratory tests, all data regarding this phenomenon come from research studies. Nevertheless, this form of infection seems to be distributed worldwide and its prevalence among the healthy population was reported to be as high as 3.3 % (Carreño et al. 2012; De Marco et al. 2009) and even higher among patients suffering from cryptogenic hepatitis or cryptogenic cirrhosis with hepatocellular carcinoma (10–74 %); (Bokharaei-Salim et al. 2011; Comar et al. 2006; Esaki et al. 2004; Idrees et al. 2011; Zaghloul and El-Sherbiny 2010).

Conclusions

Seronegative HCV infection represents a significant clinical problem. One possible consequence of seronegative infection may be a continuous transmission of HCV in the low-risk population (Larouche et al. 2012; Stapleton et al. 1999; Wiese et al. 2000).

The pathogenesis of seronegative HCV infection is not fully understood. Most likely it is a result of immune dysfunctions resulting in the inability to properly recognize HCV antigens and produce specific antibodies. Another mechanism could be infection with atypical viral strain (Alnaqy et al. 2006; Beld et al. 1999; Pawlotsky et al. 1996).

To optimize HCV diagnostics, including seronegative infections, the following issues must be considered: patient’s immune status, type of biological sample collected, time point of sample collection, possibility of delay in antibody production and the sensitivity limit of different diagnostic tests. The diagnostic procedures based on high sensitivity molecular HCV RNA detection should be more widely introduced, especially among high risk groups and organ donors.

As viral blood levels typically usually fluctuate and may temporarily drop below the level of detection, in some initially HCV RNA-negative cases the testing should be repeated. In patients with persistent hepatic dysfunction of unknown etiology, the search for viral RNA in samples other than blood (most notably liver and PBMC) should be considered. Although cumbersome in clinical practice, these procedures could contribute to improvements in HCV infection detection and consequently facilitate the development of strategies aimed at decreasing the transmission frequency of this virus.

Notes

Conflict of interest

All authors of this article declare that they do not have any competing financial interests in relation to the presented work.

References

  1. Albeldawi M, Ruiz-Rodriguez E, Carey WD (2010) Hepatitis C virus: prevention, screening, and interpretation of assays. Clevel Clin J Med 77:616–626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alnaqy A, Al-Harthy S, Kaminski G et al (2006) Detection of serum antibodies to hepatitis C virus in ‘false-seronegative’ blood donors in Oman. Med Princ Pract 15:111–113PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arrojo IP, Pareja MO, Orta MD et al (2003) Detection of a healthy carrier of HCV with no evidence of antibodies for over four years. Transfusion 43:953–957PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aswad S, Khan NS, Comanor L et al (2005) Role of nucleic acid testing in cadaver organ donor screening: detection of hepatitis C virus RNA in seropositive and seronegative donors. J Viral Hepat 12:627–634PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Azzari C, Moriondo M, Indolfi G et al (2008) Higher risk of hepatitis C virus perinatal transmission from drug user mothers is mediated by peripheral blood mononuclear cell infection. J Med Virol 80:65–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beld M, Penning M, van Putten M et al (1999) Low levels of hepatitis C virus RNA in serum, plasma, and peripheral blood mononuclear cells of injecting drug users during long antibody-undetectable periods before seroconversion. Blood 94:1183–1191PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bertoletti A, Ferrari C (2003) Kinetics of the immune response during HBV and HCV infection. Hepatology 38:4–13PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bokharaei-Salim F, Keyvani H, Monavari SH et al (2011) Occult hepatitis C virus infection in Iranian patients with cryptogenic liver disease. J Med Virol 83:989–995PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonacini M, Lin HJ, Hollinger FB (2001) Effect of coexisting HIV-1 infection on the diagnosis and evaluation of hepatitis C Virus. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 26:340–344PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brojer E (2005) Serological and molecular markers of HCV infection in Polish blood donors. Przegl Epidemiol 59:511–517PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Brojer E, Liszewski G, Niznik A et al (2001) Detection of HCV core antigen in HCV RNA positive, anti-HCV negative blood donations from Polish blood donors. Transfusion 41:304PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bronowicki JP, Vetter D, Uhl G et al (1997) Lymphocyte reactivity to hepatitis C virus (HCV) antigens shows evidence for exposure to HCV in HCV-seronegative spouses of HCV-infected patients. J Infect Dis 176:518–522PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carneiro MA, Martins RM, Teles SA et al (2001) Hepatitis C prevalence and risk factors in hemodialysis patients in Central Brazil: a survey by polymerase chain reaction and serological methods. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 96:765–769PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carreño V (2006) Occult hepatitis C virus infection: a new form of hepatitis C. World J Gastroenterol 12:6922–6925PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Carreño V, Bartalomé J, Castillo I et al (2012) New perspectives in occult hepatitis C infection. World J Gastroentrol 18:2887–2894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Castillo I, Pardo M, Bartolome J et al (2004) Occult hepatitis C virus infection in patients in whom the etiology of persistently abnormal results of liver-function tests is unknown. J Infect Dis 189:7–14PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Castillo I, Rodriguez-Inigo E, Bartolome J et al (2005) Hepatitis C virus replicates in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with occult hepatitis C virus infection. Gut 54:682–685PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Challine D, Pellegrin B, Bouvier-Alias M et al (2004) HIV and hepatitis C virus RNA in seronegative organ and tissue donors. Lancet 364:1611–1612PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chamie G, Bonacini M, Bangsberg DR et al (2007) Factors associated with seronegative chronic hepatitis C virus infection in HIV infection. Clin Infect Dis 44:577–583PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chang KM (2003) Immunopathogenesis of hepatitis C virus infection. Clin Liver Dis 7:89–105PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chary A, Winters MA, Eisen R et al (2012) Quantitation of hepatitis C virus RNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in HCV-monoinfection and HIV/HCV-coinfection. J Med Virol 84:431–437PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Comar M, Molin GD, D’Agaro P et al (2006) HBV, HCV, and TTV detection by in situ polymerase chain reaction could reveal occult infection in hepatocellular carcinoma: comparison with blood markers. J Clin Pathol 59:526–529PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. De Marco L, Gillio-Tos A, Fiano V et al (2009) Occult HCV infection: an unexpected finding in a population unselected for hepatic disease. PLoS ONE 4:e8128PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ellethy AT, Sliem HA, Hassan GM (2012) Updated molecular diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 1:147–152Google Scholar
  25. Esaki T, Suzuki N, Yokoyama K et al (2004) Hepatocellular carcinoma in a patient with liver cirrhosis associated with negative serum HCV tests but positive liver tissue HCV RNA. Intern Med 43:279–282PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fabrizi F, Martin P, Dixit V et al (1999) Detection of de novo hepatitis C virus infection by polymerase chain reaction in hemodialysis patients. Am J Nephrol 19:383–388PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fabrizi F, Dixit V, Messa P et al (2012) Hepatitis C-related liver disease in dialysis patients. Contrib Nephrol 176:42–53PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Flisiak R, Halota W, Horban A et al (2011) Prevalence and risk factors of HCV infection in Poland. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 23:1213–1217PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. George SL, Gebhardt J, Klinzman D et al (2002) Hepatitis C virus viremia in HIV-infected individuals with negative HCV antibody tests. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 31:154–162PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hadlich E, Alvares-Da-Silva, Dal Molin RK et al (2007) Hepatitis C virus (HCV) viremia in HIV-infected patients without HCV antibodies detectable by third-generation enzyme immunoassay. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 22:1506–1509PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hanuka N, Sikuler E, Tovbin D et al (2002) Hepatitis C virus infection in renal failure patients in the absence of anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies. J Viral Hepat 9:141–145PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Higuchi M, Tanaka E, Kiyosawa K (2002) Epidemiology and clinical aspects on hepatitis C. Jpn J Infect Dis 55:69–77PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Hu KQ, Tong MJ (1999) The long-term outcomes of patients with compensated hepatitis C virus–related cirrhosis and history of parenteral exposure in the United States. Hepatology 29:1311–1316PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Idrees M, Lal A, Malik FA et al (2011) Occult hepatitis C virus infection and associated predictive factors: the Pakistan experience. Infect Genet Evol 11:442–445PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kelley VA, Everett-Kitchens J, Brannon LE et al (2002) Lack of seronegative hepatitis C virus infections in patients with chronic renal failure. Transplantation 74:1473–1475PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Koziel MJ, Wong DK, Dudley D et al (1997) Hepatitis C virus-specific cytolytic T lymphocyte and T helper cell responses in seronegative persons. J Infect Dis 176:859–866PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Larouche A, Gaetan G, El-Bilali N et al (2012) Seronegative hepatitis C virus infection in a child infected via mother-to-child transmission. J Clin Microbiol 50:2515–2519PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Laskus T, Radkowski M, Piasek A et al (2000) Hepatitis C virus in lymphoid cells of patients coinfected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1: evidence of active replication in monocytes/macrophages and lymphocytes. J Infect Dis 181:442–448PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Laskus T, Radkowski M, Jablonska J et al (2004) Human immunodeficiency virus facilitates infection/replication of hepatitis C virus in native human macrophages. Blood 103:3854–3859PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lauer GM, Walker BD (2001) Hepatitis C virus infection. N Engl J Med 345:41–52PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lechner F, Wong DK, Dunbar PR et al (2000) Analysis of successful immune responses in persons infected with hepatitis C virus. J Exp Med 191:1499–1512PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Legler TJ, Riggert J, Simson G et al (2000) Testing of individual blood donations for HCV RNA reduces the residual risk of transfusion-transmitted HCV infection. Transfusion 40:1192–1197PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Letowska M, Rosiek A, Gronowska A et al (2009) Hepatitis C virus (HCV) core antigen detection in HCV RNA-positive/anti-HCV-negative Polish blood donors identified by nucleic acid testing. Transfusion 49:2241–2242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lok AS, Gunaratnam NT (1997) Diagnosis of hepatitis C. Hepatology 26:48S–56SPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meyer MF, Wedemeyer H, Monazahian M et al (2007) Prevalence of hepatitis C in a German prison for young men in relation to country of birth. Epidemiol Infect 135:274–280PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mientjes GH, Miedema F, van Ameijden EJ et al (1991) Frequent injecting impairs lymphocyte reactivity in HIV-positive and HIV-negative drug users. AIDS 5:35–41PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mondelli MU, Cerino A, Cividini A (2005) Acute hepatitis C: diagnosis and management. J Hepatol 42(Suppl(1)):S108–S114PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Morand P, Dutertre N, Minazzi H et al (2001) Lack of seroconversion in a health care worker after polymerase chain reaction-documented acute hepatitis C resulting from a needlestick injury. Clin Infect Dis 33:727–729PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Muñoz Espinosa LE (2002) Diagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection. Rev Gastroenterol Mex 67(Suppl 2):S29–S35PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Nübling M, Unger G, Chudy M et al (2002) Sensitivity of HCV core antigen and HCV RNA detection in the early infection phase. Transfusion 42:1037–1045PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Page EE, Cox A, Atkins M et al (2010) Clearance of hepatitis C virus RNA from serum in HIV/hepatitis C virus coinfection indicates eradication from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. AIDS 24:1267–1271PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Pardo M, Lopez-Alcorocho JM, Rodriguez-Inigo E et al (2007) Comparative study between occult hepatitis C virus infection and chronic hepatitis C. J Viral Hepat 14:36–40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pawlotsky JM, Bastie A, Pellet C et al (1996) Significance of indeterminate third-generation hepatitis C virus recombinant immunoblot assay. J Clin Microbiol 34:80–83PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Pawlotsky JM, Lonjon I, Hezode C et al (1998) What strategy should be used for diagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection in clinical laboratories? Hepatology 27:1700–1702PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pondé RA (2013) Enzyme-linked immunosorbent/chemiluminescence assays, recombinant immunoblot assays and nucleic acid tests in the diagnosis of HCV infection. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 32:985–988PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Post JJ, Pan Y, Freeman AJ et al (2004) Clearance of hepatitis C viremia associated with cellular immunity in the absence of seroconversion in the hepatitis C incidence and transmission in prisons study cohort. J Infect Dis 189:1846–1855PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Quiroga JA, Llorente S, Castillo I et al (2006) Cellular immune responses associated with occult hepatitis C virus infection of the liver. J Virol 80:10972–10979PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Quiroga JA, Castillo I, Llorente S et al (2009) Identification of serologically silent occult hepatitis C virus infection by detecting immunoglobulin G antibody to a dominant HCV core peptide epitope. J Hepatol 50:256–263PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Revie D, Salahuddin SZ (2011) Human cell types important for hepatitis C virus replication in vivo and in vitro: old assertions and current evidence. Virol J 8:346PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ross RS, Viazov SO, Hoffmann S et al (2001) Performance characteristics of a transcription-mediated nucleic acid amplification assay for qualitative detection of hepatitis C virus RNA. J Clin Lab Anal 15:308–313PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rossi G, Tucci A, Cariani E et al (1997) Outbreak of hepatitis C virus infection in patients with hematologic disorders treated with intravenous immunoglobulins: different prognosis according to the immune status. Blood 90:1309–1314PubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Sarhan MA, Pham TN, Chen AY et al (2012) Hepatitis C virus infection of human T lymphocytes is mediated by CD5. J Virol 86:3723–3735PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schneeberger PM, Keur I, van der Vliet W et al (1998) Hepatitis C virus infections in dialysis centers in The Netherlands: a national survey by serological and molecular methods. J Clin Microbiol 36:1711–1715PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Schneeberger PM, Keur I, van Loon AM et al (2000) The prevalence and incidence of hepatitis C virus infections among dialysis patients in the Netherlands: a nationwide prospective study. J Infect Dis 182:1291–1299PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schreiber GB, Busch MP, Kleinman SH et al (1996) The risk of transfusion-transmitted viral infections. The Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study. N Engl J Med 334:1685–1690PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schröter M, Feucht HH, Schäfer P et al (1997) High percentage of seronegative HCV infections in hemodialysis patients: the need for PCR. Intervirology 40:277–278PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Scognamiglio P, Accapezzato D, Casciaro MA et al (1999) Presence of effector CD8+ T cells in hepatitis C virus-exposed healthy seronegative donors. J Immunol 162:6681–6689PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Scott JD, Gretch DR (2007) Molecular diagnostics of hepatitis C virus infection: a systematic review. JAMA 297:724–732PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Seyfried H, Brojer E, Grabarczyk P et al (2005) Prevalence of hepatitis C virus markers in Polish blood donors in 1994–2003. Przegl Epidemiol 59:807–814PubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Sorbi D, Shen D, Lake-Bakaar G (1996) Influence of HIV disease on serum anti-HCV antibody titers: a study of intravenous drug users. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol 13:295–296PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Stapleton JT, Klinzman D, Schmidt WN et al (1999) Prospective comparison of whole-blood- and plasma-based hepatitis C virus RNA detection systems: improved detection using whole blood as the source of viral RNA. J Clin Microbiol 37:484–489PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Stramer SL, Glynn SA, Kleinman SH et al (2004) Detection of HIV-1 and HCV infections among antibody-negative blood donors by nucleic acid-amplification testing. N Engl J Med 351:760–768PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Takaki A, Wiese M, Maertens G et al (2000) Cellular immune responses persist and humoral responses decrease two decades after recovery from a single-source outbreak of hepatitis C. Nat Med 6:578–582PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Takedai M, Takatani A, Funato T et al (2008) HCV-RNA test in hepatitis C virus infection—a systematic review. Rinsho Byori 56:868–876PubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Thimme R, Oldach D, Chang KM et al (2001) Determinants of viral clearance and persistence during acute hepatitis C virus infection. J Exp Med 194:1395–1406PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Thomson BJ (2009) Hepatitis C virus: the growing challenge. Br Med Bull 89:153–167PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Thomson EC, Nastouli E, Main J et al (2009) Delayed anti-HCV antibody response in HIV-positive men acutely infected with HCV. AIDS 23:89–93PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Troisi CL, Hollinger FB (1997) Detection of antibodies to hepatitis C virus in seronegative patients using an immune complex dissociation assay. J Viral Hepat 4:383–386PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Tuaillon E, Mondain AM, Meroueh F et al (2010) Dried blood spot for hepatitis C virus serology and molecular testing. Hepatology 51:752–758PubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. Tugwell BD, Patel PR, Williams IT et al (2005) Transmission of hepatitis C virus to several organ and tissue recipients from an antibody-negative donor. Ann Intern Med 143:648–654PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Urbani S, Amadei B, Fisicaro P et al (2006) Outcome of acute hepatitis C is related to virus-specific CD4 function and maturation of antiviral memory CD8 responses. Hepatology 44:126–139PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Vachon ML, Qazi N, Dieterich DT (2008) HCV treatment challenges in patients co-infected with HIV. HIV Ther 3:87–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Van der Poel CL, Cuypers HT, Reesink HW et al (1991) Confirmation of hepatitis C virus infection by new four-antigen recombinant immunoblot assay. Lancet 337:317–319PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wedemeyer H, He XS, Nascimbeni M et al (2002) Impaired effector function of hepatitis C virus-specific CD8+ T cells in chronic hepatitis C virus infection. J Immunol 169:3447–3458PubMedGoogle Scholar
  85. Wiese M, Berr F, Lafrenz M et al (2000) Low frequency of cirrhosis in a hepatitis C (genotype 1b). Hepatology 32:91–96PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Wright TL, Hollander H, Pu X et al (1994) Hepatitis C in HIV-infected patients with and without AIDS: prevalence and relationship to patient survival. Hepatology 20:1152–1155PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zaghloul H, El-Sherbiny W (2010) Detection of occult hepatitis C and hepatitis B virus infections from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Immunol Investig 39:284–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Zagożdżon P, Parszuto J, Raj A et al (2009) Prevalence and risk factors of chronic hepatitis C virus infection among health-care workers in Pomeranian voivodeship. Przegl Epidemiol 63:39–43PubMedGoogle Scholar
  89. Zayed RA, Rushdy E, Saleh DA (2010) Detection of HCV RNA in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of serum HCV RNA-negative Egyptian patients under interferon treatment. Am J Med Sci 340:435–438PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Zhang X, Dou J, Germann MW (2009) Characterization of the cellular immune response in hepatitis C virus infection. Med Res Rev 29:843–866PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2013

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justyna Kaźmierczak
    • 1
  • Agnieszka Pawełczyk
    • 1
  • Kamila Caraballo Cortes
    • 1
  • Marek Radkowski
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Immunopathology of Infectious and Parasitic DiseasesMedical University of WarsawWarsawPoland

Personalised recommendations