Aim: With advent of reverse-transcription (RT)/polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for detection of the hepatitis E viral genome, we carried out retrospective examinations.
Methods: Serum samples collected from 68 patients diagnosed as viral hepatitis with unknown etiology were tested for viral markers of hepatitis virus.
Results: Two of them were found positive for hepatitis E viral RNA. While the clinical course of one patient (patient 1) was typical as acute hepatitis E, another patient (patient 2) was persistently infected with HEV. Patient 2 was infected with the virus via blood transfusion during chemotherapy against T-cell lymphoma. The entire viral genome from the donor was identical with that from the serum of patient 2 obtained on day 170 after the transfusion of the implicated red blood cell (RBC) product, confirming the transmission of HEV by transfusion. The patient remained negative for anti-HEV antibodies for the follow-up period of six months, probably due to immune suppression by lymphoma and chemotherapy.
Conclusion: We report here an unusual case of long-term HEV infection in a patient with T-cell lymphoma. Persistent infection with HEV was probably due to the absence of anti-HEV antibodies, which was caused by lymphoma and chemotherapy.