Detection of hepatitis C virus-RNA in saliva from chronically HCV-infected patients

L Pastore, J R Fiore, M Tateo, M De Benedittis, M Petruzzi, C Casalino, C Genchi, L Lo Muzio, G Angarano, R Serpico
International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology 2006, 19 (1): 217-24
The possibility of the non-parenteral Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) transmission is supported by the demonstration that the actual virus is present in several body fluids, including saliva. From a review of the literature many investigators have found the presence of HCV-RNA in saliva, however, widely contrasting results emerge, with detection rates ranging from 0-100%. To further examine HCV salivary shedding, saliva samples were collected from 46 chronically HCV-infected patients and tested for HCV-RNA and occult blood. Quantification and genotyping of serum HCV-RNA were also carried out for each patient. HCV-RNA was detected in 39.13% of the saliva samples. The viral salivary shedding was significantly related to viraemia levels, serum viral genotype and the presence of salivary occult blood. Our findings indicate that the HCV salivary shedding occurs in about one third of HCV infected patients, but seem to suggest that it is unlikely when the serum viral genotype is 3a. Moreover, blood leakage into the oral cavity is possibly the main source of the salivary HCV-RNA. Although the occurrence of the viral salivary shedding does not necessarily mean that HCV transmission occurs by saliva, our results suggest the need for further investigations into the biological factors possibly involved in HCV mucosal transmission related to both the source and the exposed subjects.

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