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Reuters Health Information (2006-05-03): Minor hepatitis C virus quasi species can take over after needlestick accident


Minor hepatitis C virus quasi species can take over after needlestick accident

Last Updated: 2006-05-03 16:20:31 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A minor hepatitis C virus (HCV) quasi species can be transmitted and prevail as the dominant species in the recipient of a needlestick accident, according to a report in the May 1 Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Quasi species are genetically closely related populations of HCV that circulate in infected individuals, the authors explain, and little is known about how they are transmitted through needlestick injuries.

Dr. Chen-Hua Liu from National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, and colleagues analyzed the nucleotide and amino acid sequences of the HVR-1 region of HCV genomes recovered from the donor and the recipient of HCV via needlestick accident in an effort to understand the transmission of HCV quasi species through such an injury and the molecular evolution in acute resolving hepatitis.

HCV clones in samples from the donor showed greater genetic variation than did clones in samples from the recipient, the authors report, and there were no identical nucleotide or amino acid sequences of HCV HVR-1 between the donor and the recipient.

A phylogenetic tree analysis of HVR-1, however, revealed that the HCV strains from both patients originated from the same cluster.

The minor variant of HCV quasi species in the donor was transmitted to the recipient and became the major variant after transmission, the researchers note. The recipient eventually cleared the virus after experiencing repeated flares of hepatitis.

The investigators identify three findings of significance in this report. "First," they write, "our data demonstrate that a minor HCV quasi species in the donor may be successfully transmitted to a recipient and then preponderate in the new host."

"Second, molecular evolutionary analysis of HCV can help document viral transmission and could potentially predict outcome."

"Finally," the authors conclude, "the preserved genetic homogeneity of the transmitted viral variants in patients with acute HCV infection may account for their clinical outcomes of resolving hepatitis."

Clin Infect Dis 2006;42:1254-1259.

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