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Keywords:

  • fat;
  • fibrosis;
  • hepatitis;
  • inflammation;
  • liver;
  • virus

Hepatitis G virus (HGV) is a flavivirus that can cause acute hepatitis and persistent infection but its role in chronic liver disease or primary liver cancer is unproven. In this study we have examined the prevalence of HGV RNA in the serum of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and in patients with cryptogenic chronic liver disease, including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and in patients with HCV-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and HCC arising in patients with cryptogenic liver disease. One-hundred and thirty patients who were positive for antibody to HCV (anti-HCV), 54 patients with cryptogenic chronic liver disease (including 17 patients with NASH) and 46 patients with hepatitis C-related (n=27) or cryptogenic liver disease-related HCC (n=19) were studied. HGV RNA was detected using nested reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) and was found in 16.1% of patients with HCV infection. HGV RNA was not detected in any patient with cryptogenic liver disease. In patients with HCC, 7/34 samples were positive for HGV RNA and six out of seven HGV-positive subjects also had HCV infection. Only one patient with HCC in cryptogenic liver disease was positive for HGV RNA. Hence, cryptogenic liver disease in the UK is not caused by HGV/GBVc infection. It seems unlikely that HGV plays a significant role in hepatocarcinogenesis.