Molecular epidemiological and clinical aspects of hepatitis D virus in a unique triple hepatitis viruses (B, C, D) endemic community in Taiwan



The molecular epidemiological and clinical aspects of hepatitis D virus (HDV) in a unique HBV, HCV, and HDV triple virus endemic community in southern Taiwan were investigated. A total of 2,909 residents aged 45 or older were screened for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), anti-HCV antibody, and anti-HDV antibody (specifically for HBsAg-positive carriers). Factors that might be associated with HDV infection, viral nucleic acid detection, and genotyping of HBV, HCV, and HDV were investigated. The prevalence of HBsAg and anti-HCV were 12.6% (366/2,909) and 41.6% (1,227/2,909), respectively. For HBsAg carriers, 15.3% (56/366) were positive for anti-HDV assay. Living in a higher endemic district of HCV infection (odds ratio [OR] = 3.2; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.7–6.3), male gender (OR = 1.9; 95% CI = 1.1–3.6) and co-infection with HCV (OR = 1.8; 95% CI = 1.0–3.3) were significantly independent factors associated with HDV infection. The detection rate of HDV RNA among anti-HDV-positive patients was only 12.7% (7/55). The mean HBV titer of triple infection group was significantly lower than in the HBV/HDV co-infection group (2.23 vs 3.05 in log10, copies/ml, P = 0.046). HCV RNA detection among the triple infection group showed 47.4% (9/19) viremia rate and viral loads of 579,121 IU/ml in median (16,803–1,551,190 IU/ml). The prevalent genotype of HBV was type B (23/25); HCV was 1b (7/9) and HDV was IIa/IIb (4/4). Only the presence of HCV RNA predicted the presence of elevated ALT significantly (OR = 25.0; 95% CI = 3.39–184.6). In conclusion, the geographical aggregation of HDV infection paralleled that of HCV infection in this community. HCV suppressed the replication of HBV among triple vital infection patients. HBV and HDV lapsed into a remission or nonreplicative phase in most cases, and HCV acted as a dominant factor in triple viral-infected individuals. Only the presence of HCV RNA was associated with elevated ALT values, but not HBV or HDV. J. Med. Virol. 70:74–80, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.