Hepatitis E virus and fulminant hepatitis–a virus or host-specific pathology?

Authors

  • Donald B. Smith,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, Ashworth Laboratories, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
    • Correspondence

      Dr. Donald B. Smith, University of Edinburgh, Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, Ashworth Laboratories, King's Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK

      Tel: (+44) 131 650 8661

      Fax: (+44) 131 650 6564

      e-mail: D.B.Smith@ed.ac.uk

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  • Peter Simmonds

    1. Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, Ashworth Laboratories, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
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Abstract

Background & Aims

Fulminant hepatitis is a rare outcome of infection with hepatitis E virus. Several recent reports suggest that virus variation is an important determinant of disease progression. To critically examine the evidence that virus-specific factors underlie the development of fulminant hepatitis following hepatitis E virus infection.

Methods

Published sequence information of hepatitis E virus isolates from patients with and without fulminant hepatitis was collected and analysed using statistical tests to identify associations between virus polymorphisms and disease outcome.

Results

Fulminant hepatitis has been reported following infection with all four hepatitis E virus genotypes that infect humans comprising multiple phylogenetic lineages within genotypes 1, 3 and 4. Analysis of virus sequences from individuals infected by a common source did not detect any common substitutions associated with progression to fulminant hepatitis. Re-analysis of previously reported associations between virus substitutions and fulminant hepatitis suggests that these were probably the result of sampling biases.

Conclusions

Host-specific factors rather than virus genotype, variants or specific substitutions appear to be responsible for the development of fulminant hepatitis.

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