Viral Hepatitis in the Compromised Host

  • Jules L. Dienstag


Four categories of viral hepatitis have been recognized: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, non-A, non-B hepatitis, and hepatitis B-associated delta hepatitis. Although all four have the potential to produce similar illnesses, clinical severity and outcome as well as the contribution of immunologic mechanisms to the clinical expression of infection and illness appear to differ among the various types. Observations of viral hepatitis in immunosuppressed persons have taught us important lessons about the biology of these viral agents, on the one hand, and about the approach to immunologically compromised patients with hepatitis, on the other. Unlike susceptibility of immunosuppressed persons to opportunistic infections, susceptibility to viral hepatitis per se is not increased in the immunosuppressed; however, because patients with immunologic derangements are very likely to require transfusions of blood products, the frequency of viral hepatitis in this group of patients is increased. In addition, severity of acute illness, likelihood of chronic infection, infectivity, and the early and late consequences of chronic infection differ distinctly between immunocompetent and immunosuppressed hosts.


Down Syndrome Viral Hepatitis Renal Transplant Recipient Chronic Active Hepatitis Chronic Persistent Hepatitis 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jules L. Dienstag
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Gastrointestinal Unit, Medical ServicesMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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