Concurrent hepatitis C virus and hepatitis delta virus superinfection in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection



Since hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis delta virus (HDV) are transmitted by the same routes as hepatitis B virus (HBV), simultaneous or concurrent HCV and HDV infection in patients with chronic HBV infection may occur. To test this hypothesis and to examine the clinicohistological and immunopathological presentations of such multiple hepatitis virus infections, acute and/or convalescent serum specimens from 86 patients with acute HDV superinfection were tested by enzyme immunoassay for antibodies to HCV. Of the 86 patients, 18 (20.9%) were associated with HCV infection. Although patients with early mortality cannot be evaluated by the HCV markers used in this study, the results showed that the clinical and histologic features were similar except that patients with HCV infection were older than those without HCV infection (P < 0.01). Immunopathological studies carried out within 2 months after the onset of acute HDV superinfection demonstrated that hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) was not detected in any patient and HDV antigen was detected in 18.2% of the patients with HCV infection whereas HBcAg and HDAg were found in 7% and 65.1%, respectively, of those without HCV coinfection (P < 0.02). It is concluded that concurrent HCV and HDV superinfections can and do occur in patients with chronic HBV infection. In these triple viral infections, HCV may even transiently suppress HDV and HBV. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.