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Research Article

Reinfection of liver graft by hepatitis C virus after liver transplantation.

C Féray, D Samuel, V Thiers, M Gigou, F Pichon, A Bismuth, M Reynes, P Maisonneuve, H Bismuth and C Bréchot

Hybridotest, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.

Published April 1992

We have investigated hepatitis C virus (HCV) viremia before and after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). 38 patients were examined; 16 were anti-HCV positive and 22 anti-HCV negative pre-OLT in a RIBA-2 test (Ortho Diagnostic Systems Inc., Westwood, MA). HCV-RNA was detected using a modified nested polymerase chain reaction in 14/38 and 10/38 patients before and after OLT, respectively. 7 of these 14 subjects who were HCV-RNA positive before OLT were also positive for serum hepatitis B surface antigen. After OLT, six patients became HCV-RNA positive, likely as a result of transfusions, while four developed a probable recurrence of HCV infection. Infection of the liver graft by the same strain of HCV was indeed demonstrated by sequence analysis of a hypervariable domain (in the envelope region) in two cases. This establishes the possibility of HCV recurrence and shows the usefulness of polymerase chain reaction as the only assay currently capable of identifying HCV infection after OLT.

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