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Keywords:

  • acute liver failure;
  • hepatitis E virus;
  • HEV diagnosis;
  • HEV monoclonal antibodies;
  • immunohistochemistry

Summary.  Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an emerging pathogen and the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis all over the world. We describe here an immunohistochemical method for the detection of HEV antigens (pORF2 and pORF3) in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded liver tissues using monoclonal antibodies raised against two of the virus proteins (pORF2 and pORF3). We analysed their specificity and sensitivity in comparison with serology and nucleic acid detection in cases of acute liver failure (ALF). We used this test on 30 liver biopsies collected post-mortem from the patients of ALF caused by HEV infection. These cases were selected on the basis of positive results for enzyme immunoassay (IgM anti-HEV). Of the 30 cases taken from the archives of the Department of Pathology, the antibodies successfully stained all. However, only 25 serum samples (83.3%) of these were positive for HEV RNA. Fifteen controls used (Five noninfected liver tissues, five HBV- and five hepatitis C virus-infected liver tissues) were all negative. The immunohistochemical assay described here may prove a valuable tool for the detection of HEV infection in biopsy, autopsy and explant liver tissues and can serve as a link along with other available tests to delineate the extent of HEV-associated problem worldwide.