Analysis of nucleotide sequences of hepatitis C virus isolates from husband-wife pairs

Y Setoguchi, S Kajihara, T Hara, M Motomura, T Mizuta, I Wada, K Yamamoto, T Sakai
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 1994, 9 (5): 468-71
To identify the route of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission, we investigated the sexual transmission of HCV by examining HCV markers among spouses of patients with chronic liver disease (CLD) due to HCV. Of 83 spouses, 14 (16.9%) had elevated serum aspartate aminotransferase or alanine aminotransferase, 20 (24.1%) had detectable anti-HCV antibodies, and 17 (20.5%) had measurable HCV-RNA in serum. However, the seropositivity rate of anti-HCV antibodies (24.1%) of patients' spouses was not significantly higher than that (15.4-27.5%) of an unselected population in the same district. Ten patient-spouse pairs underwent nucleotide sequence analysis of the HCV core and envelope genes. Overall the sequence homology of 10 couples (91.1%) was not significantly higher than that of 10 randomly chosen unrelated pairs (88.2%). As reported earlier, in an age and sex matched case-control study of HCV transmission, a history of surgery is a prominent HCV risk factor. These results suggest that sexual transmission of HCV is rare.

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