Viral and host factors in early hepatitis C virus infection

James W Mosley, Eva A Operskalski, Leslie H Tobler, William W Andrews, Bruce Phelps, Janel Dockter, Cristina Giachetti, Michael P Busch
Hepatology: Official Journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 2005, 42 (1): 86-92
Since 1980, the Transfusion-transmitted Viruses Study (TTVS) (1974-1980) has continued to maintain its computerized database and stored sera to enable ongoing study of new transfusion events since the 1970s. Most recently, we have used this resource to study parameters of acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among 94 donor-recipient pairs in which there was transmission. In addition, frequent recipient observations permitted further characterization of the early phase of the infection's course. Donor RNA load ranged from 3.7 to 3,160,000 IU/mL. Onset of recipient viremia was judged from a total of 67 sera collected during the 4th through 8th days posttransfusion; only 2 of the 67 sera were still RNA nonreactive by that time. The recipients' latent periods to an alanine aminotransferase (ALT) elevation of > or =90 IU/L ranged from 6 to 112 days (median, 46 days) and was shorter with higher donor RNA levels. Descriptors of the recipient's illness showed several strongly positive and negative correlations. The latent period tended to be shorter in the 37% of cases that were clinically overt. Attributes of donors with genotypes 1 and non-1 and subtypes 1a and 1b did not differ significantly. Recipients with genotype 1 strains had shorter latent intervals than non-1 strains. On multivariate analysis, latent period was significantly associated (negatively) only with the highest ALT level during the first 120 days of follow-up (P = .014). In conclusion, host factors are more important determinants of acute HCV infection dynamics than virus-associated factors.

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