The distribution of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes/subtypes varies among different populations. Here, we investigated HCV infection and its genotype distribution in injection drug users (IDUs) in Guangdong Province of China. A total of 318 IDUs from two prisons were recruited. The genotypes/subtypes of HCV in IDUs were determined by phylogenetic analysis using E1 and/or NS5B gene sequences. Our previous data on blood donors (BDs) with no history of drug use were used as control population data for comparison. Our results showed that the prevalence of HCV 3b (20.9% vs. 3.6%, P = 3.4E-9) and 6a (57.0% vs. 39.8%, P = 1.2E-5) was higher in IDUs than in BDs. In contrast, the prevalence of HCV 1b (43.4% vs. 5.6%, P = 9.8E-23) in BDs was higher than in IDUs. Phylogeographic analysis indicated that HCV 3b migrated from Yunnan to Guangdong Province and became endemic, with further transmission to other regions of China. The trend of HCV 3b dissemination in China in IDUs requires further attention, and a strategy for prevention and therapy is needed.
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This study was funded by a grant from the Weigao Fund of the Chinese Society of Blood Transfusion (No. CSBT-WG-2018-08), a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81772208), and funding for the Key Medical Laboratory of Guangzhou from the Key Medical Disciplines and Specialties Program of Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study was approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of Guangzhou Blood Center.
All of the participants were duly informed about this study, and written informed consent was obtained from each participant.
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Phylogenetic tree based on NS5B sequences (H77 nt positions 8276-8615) of HCV isolates from IDUs. Green and red circles indicate reference sequences and sequences from IDUs from this study, respectively. Branches of HCV 6a and 3b isolates are expanded on the right. Bootstrap analysis values (>70%) are displayed on the branches.The bars at the base of the figure show the scale in nucleotide substitution per site (EPS 10831 kb)
Mixed-infection phylogeny estimated from E1 (A, H77 nt positions 738-1313) and NS5B (B, H77 nt positions 8256-8641) fragments. Red, green and pink circles represent sequences of YJ244, YJ264 and YJ478 clones, repectively (EPS 3769 kb)
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Wang, M., Liao, Q., Xu, R. et al. Hepatitis C virus 3b strains in injection drug users in Guangdong Province, China, may have originated in Yunnan Province. Arch Virol 164, 1761–1770 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00705-019-04260-7