• infection;
  • polymerase chain reaction;
  • France


The prevalence of different hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes in HCV infected individuals and the relation between the HCV genotypes and the source of the infection are controversial. The aim of this study was to determine the HCV genotypes in French blood donors. Fifty-one anti-HCV positive blood donors were studied with detectable serum HCV RNA by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers derived from the 5′ non-coding region. For genotyping HCV, we used a method based on analysis of the restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) after amplification by PCR of the HCV non-structural 5 (NS5) genome domain. Using this technique, the genotypes of 39 of the 51 blood donors (76%) were determined. Three previously described genotypes were found: 19 blood donors were infected by HCV genotype I (37%), 14 were infected by HCV genotype II (27%), 3 were infected by HCV genotype III (6%), and 3 were coinfected by two genotypes (6%). All three blood donors infected with two different genotypes were intravenous drug abusers. A past history of intravenous drug abuse was more frequent in blood donors with HCV genotype I. However, there was no difference in alanine transaminase (ALT) levels, histological lesions, and RIBA-2 patterns in blood donors infected with either HCV genotype I or HCV genotype II. These findings indicate that most HCV genotypes isolated from French blood donors belong to HCV genotype I and HCV genotype II, and that risk factors for HCV infection may differ for different genotypes of HCV. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, inc.