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Persistent infection of hepatitis E virus transmitted by blood transfusion in a patient with T-cell lymphoma


Dr Akinori Tamura Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Nihon University School of Medicine, 30-1 Oyaguchikamicho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-8610, Japan. Email:


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.