Hepatitis C virus (HCV) specific immune responses in anti-HCV positive patients without hepatitis C viraemia. (1/997)

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Most patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) develop chronic infection and persistent viraemia. The immune mechanisms responsible for resolution of viraemia remain poorly understood. HCV specific humoral and cellular immune responses in patients with and without viraemia were investigated. METHODS: In vitro T helper (TH) lymphocyte responses to structural and non-structural HCV proteins were determined by means of proliferative response and cytokine production in 35 anti-HCV positive/HCV RNA negative patients and in 31 patients with chronic HCV infection and persistent viraemia. Humoral responses were determined by measuring HCV specific antibody quantity and specificity. RESULTS: A TH response to two or more HCV proteins was present in 18 of 35 patients with serological viral clearance compared with just one of 31 viraemic patients (p = 0.00001). HCV specific interferon-gamma production was increased only in the former group. In contrast, the antibody levels were significantly lower and directed at fewer HCV antigens in patients with undetectable HCV RNA. CONCLUSIONS: Patients without viraemia after HCV infection frequently have strong TH lymphocyte responses of the TH1 type to multiple HCV antigens many years after the onset of infection, whereas antibody responses are less marked. These results suggest that control of HCV replication may depend on effective TH lymphocyte activation.  (+info)

Hepatitis virus infection in haemodialysis patients from Moldavia. (2/997)

BACKGROUND: Although the epidemiology of hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) now seems well established for Western European countries, in Central and Eastern Europe < 50% of all dialysis centres routinely test for hepatitis C antibodies since testing is not available or is not applied to all patients. This study describes the prevalence, risk factors and clinical significance of HBV and HCV infection for the haemodialysis population of the North Eastern region of Romania, Moldavia. METHODS: The presence of HBV antigens was determined with an ELISA kit (Wellcome, Abbot) and HCV antibodies with the ELISA-3 Ortho-HCV, third generation test. The following individual data were collected: gender, age, duration of dialysis, rural/urban domicile, actual and previous HBV status, actual HCV status, known acute, clinically evident hepatitis episodes in the last 3 years, monthly alanine aminotransferase (ALAT) and aspartate aminotransferase (ASAT) levels, complete biochemical hepatic assessment at the time of the study, transfusions for the past 3 years and family history. RESULTS: HBV and HCV prevalences were 17% (stable over the last 3 years) and 75%, respectively; co-infection was seen in 10% of the subjects. Hospitalization (nosocomial infection) for HBV, blood transfusions and duration on dialysis for HCV, emerged as the main risk factors for hepatitis infection. Socio-economic conditions appear to be equally important for HCV infection, since the prevalence was significantly higher among patients from rural, underdeveloped areas than urban areas (80.8 vs 60.3%), and infection was already present in a large proportion of patients (47%) before starting dialysis, without being related to previous disease duration or blood transfusions. HBV and/or HCV was not associated with a worse clinical or biochemical profile at the time of the study. However, infected patients had significantly more previous cytolytic episodes, with higher, transient increases in ALAT and ASAT levels. CONCLUSIONS: HCV infection is endemic among dialysis centres in Moldavia. Apart from previously well-known risk factors for hepatitis infection, our study demonstrates the negative impact of socio-economic underdevelopment. Simple measures such as enforced general asepsia rules, careful disinfection and equipment sterilization, routine testing of patients from economically disadvantaged areas and monthly, serial determination of hepatic enzymes should be the common practice in dialysis centres in Romania.  (+info)

Ontogeny of hepatitis C virus (HCV) hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) heterogeneity and HVR1 antibody responses over a 3 year period in a patient infected with HCV type 2b. (3/997)

Hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) sequences of 96 clones at six time-points representing 27 variants in two major and one minor group were identified in a patient with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection over 3 years. Major and selected minor variants were used to design synthetic peptides corresponding to the HVR1 C terminus. Peptide ELISA reactivity with IgG was plotted against the corresponding clone frequency, and three patterns emerged: (1) three peptides were unreactive; (2) antibodies against two peptides followed emergence of the corresponding variant, suggesting isolate-specificity; (3) antibodies against four peptides preceded the appearance of the corresponding variant, indicating cross-reactivity or previous exposure. Cross-reactivity was investigated further: sera from six time-points were tested against 11 unrelated HVR1 peptides, seven of which (63.6%) showed cross-reactivity at all time-points. Cross-reactivity of nine patient-specific peptides tested against a panel of 45 heterologous sera from chronic HCV carriers ranged between 0 and 20%. Only three of 27 variants appeared at more than one time-point and in two cases specific and/or cross-reactive HVR1 antibodies coexisted with the corresponding variant, consistent with emergence of escape mutants. In addition, analysis of HVR1 IgG reactivity within a group of closely related patient-specific peptides revealed a loss of reactivity in one peptide attributable to a single amino acid substitution. Interferon-alpha treatment considerably reduced viral RNA but, paradoxically, heterogeneity increased.  (+info)

Immunogenicity of variable regions of hepatitis C virus proteins: selection and modification of peptide epitopes to assess hepatitis C virus genotypes by ELISA. (4/997)

The immunogenicity of variable regions of hepatitis C virus (HCV) proteins was studied by ELISA by using 543 synthetic peptides from 120 variable regions and 90 sera from HCV-infected patients. Some regions from certain genotypes were less immunogenic, or even non-immunogenic, compared with their equivalents in other genotypes. However, the mean recognition of all peptides from genotypes 1a, 1b and 3 by sera infected with genotypes 1a, 1b and 3, respectively, showed no significant differences, suggesting a similar overall immunogenicity of variable regions from these genotypes. Proteins NS4a, NS4b and NS5a were found to be the most immunogenic. Recognition of individual peptides by the sera of infected patients showed that the humoral response against HCV is patient-dependent. The work shows that 15-mer peptides may encompass several B-cell epitopes. These epitopes may lie in slightly different positions in different genotypes. Thirty-one percent of the 543 peptides were recognized by some of the 35 healthy donors. This may be a reflection of the large number of antigens to which they had been exposed, but it may also reflect a strategy of HCV to respond to immune pressure. After selection and modification, a set of 40 peptides was used to assess genotypes 1a, 1b, 1, 2 and 3 in the sera of HCV-infected patients, with sensitivities of 34.1, 48.5, 68.8, 58.3 and 48.9% and specificities of 100, 99.1, 97.1, 99.5 and 99%, respectively. The overall sensitivity and specificity for the assessment of genotypes 1, 2 and 3 were 64 and 98%, respectively.  (+info)

Multiple sequence-reactive antibodies induced by a single peptide immunization with hypervariable region 1 of hepatitis C virus. (5/997)

Hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is known to contain neutralizing epitopes. We previously found that murine antibodies against HVR1-#6 captured a different isolate, HCV-#7, and cross-reacted with the HVR1 peptide of HCV-#7. We investigated the inducibility and generality of cross-reaction of animal anti-HVR1 antibody responses in this study. Anti-HVR1-#7 antibodies, which were induced in mice and a chimpanzee by immunization, were found to be cross-reactive to HVR1-#6 peptide. Antibody responses against HVR1-#6-1 and HVR1-#7 peptides were detected in 11/165 (6.7%) and 26/165 (15.8%) HCV-infected individuals, respectively. Nine HVR1 sequences from six individuals, who were strongly positive for anti-HVR1-#7 antibodies, were only 50-64.5% identical to that of HVR1-#7. All nine of these HVR1 peptides were reactive to sera from the six patients and/or to antisera against HVR1-#6 and HVR1-#7 produced in mice and chimpanzees. Cross-inhibition tests of chimpanzee antisera indicated that a given species of anti-HVR1 antibodies was reactive to multiple HVR1 sequences. Fine epitope mapping of polyclonal and monoclonal anti-HVR1 antibodies showed that conserved subregions in HVR1 sequences determined the observed immunological cross-reactivity. Our data demonstrate that cross-reacting anti-HVR1 antibodies are inducible by a single peptide immunization.  (+info)

Use of a novel hepatitis C virus (HCV) major-epitope chimeric polypeptide for diagnosis of HCV infection. (6/997)

The genome of hepatitis C virus (HCV) consists of seven functional regions: the core, E1, E2/NS1, NS2, NS3, NS4, and NS5 regions. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration-licensed 2.0G immunoassay for the detection of anti-HCV uses proteins from the core, NS3, and NS4 regions (McHutchinson et al., Hepatology 15:19-25, 1992). The 3.0G enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay includes the protein from the NS5 region (Uyttendaele et al., Vox Sang. 66:122-129, 1994). The necessity of detecting antibodies to viral envelope proteins (E1 and E2) and to different genotype samples has been demonstrated previously (Chien et al., Lancet 342:933, 1993; Lok et al., Hepatology 18:497-502, 1993). In this study we have attempted to improve the sensitivity of the anti-HCV assay by developing a single multiple-epitope fusion antigen (MEFA; MEFA-6) which incorporates all of the major immunodominant epitopes from the seven functional regions of the HCV genome. A nucleic acid sequence consisting of proteins from the viral core, E1, E2, NS3, NS4, and NS5 regions and different subtype-specific regions of the NS4 region was constructed, cloned, and expressed in yeast. The epitopes present on this antigen can be detected by epitope-specific monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. In a competition assay, the MEFA-6 protein competed with 83 to 96% of genotype-specific antibodies from HCV genotype-specific peptides. This recombinant antigen was subsequently used to design an anti-HCV chemiluminescent immunoassay. We designed our assay using a monoclonal anti-human immunoglobulin G antibody bound to the solid phase. Because MEFA-6 is fused with human superoxide dismutase (h-SOD), we used an anti-human superoxide dismutase, dimethyl acridinium ester-labeled monoclonal antibody for detection. Our results indicate that MEFA-6 exposes all of the major immunogenic epitopes. Its excellent sensitivity and specificity for the detection of clinical seroconversion are demonstrated by this assay.  (+info)

Prevalence of hepatitis C in prisons: WASH-C surveillance linked to self-reported risk behaviours. (7/997)

We used cross-sectional willing anonymous salivary hepatitis C (WASH-C) surveillance linked to self-completed risk-factor questionnaires to estimate the prevalence of salivary hepatitis C antibodies (HepCAbS) in five Scottish prisons from 1994 to 1996. Of 2121 available inmates, 1864 (88%) participated and 1532/1864 (82%) stored samples were suitable for testing. Overall 311/1532 (20.3%, prevalence 95% CI 18.3-22.3%) were HepCAbS-positive: 265/536 (49%, 95% CI 45-54%) injector-inmates but only 27/899 (3%, 95% CI 2-4%) non-injector-inmates. Among injectors, HepCAbS positivity was only slightly higher (p = 0.03) in those who had injected inside prison (53%, 162/305) than in those who had not (44%, 98/224). Those who began injecting in 1992-96 were much less likely to be HepCAbS-positive than those who started pre-1992 (31%, 35/114 vs. 55%, 230/422; p < 0.001). Even with injectors who began in 1992-96 but had never injected inside prison, the prevalence of hepatitis C carriage was 17/63 (95% CI 16-38%). The prevalence and potential transmissibility of hepatitis C in injector-inmates are both high. Promoting 'off injecting' before 'off drugs' (both inside and outside prison), methadone prescription during short incarcerations, alternatives to prison, and support of HepCAbS-positive inmates in becoming eligible for treatment, all warrant urgent consideration.  (+info)

Development of a simple and highly sensitive enzyme immunoassay for hepatitis C virus core antigen. (8/997)

A highly sensitive enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) core antigen (HCVcAg) was developed, and its performance was compared with that of the AMPLICOR HCV test (Roche Molecular Systems). The developed one-step pretreatment method, 30-min incubation of the specimen with a solution containing three different types of detergents (Triton X-100, 3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)-dimethylammonio]-1-propanesulfonate [CHAPS], and sodium dodecyl sulfate), does not require any special device. Because the interfering anti-core antibody in the sample was sufficiently inactivated by the pretreatment, HCVcAg in the sample could be detected. The immunoreactivity on gel filtration was shifted from void fractions to those corresponding to the molecular mass range from 20 to 25 kDa, which is equal to the estimated molecular mass of HCVcAg, after the pretreatment. By the recovery test with HCVcAg-positive serum, the recovery rate was 93.5 to 106. 5%. There was no interference with the EIA by anticoagulants or blood components in the serum. When the cutoff value was tentatively set at 0.5 mU/ml based on the distribution of healthy subjects' sera, the sera of all healthy subjects (n = 125) and patients with hepatitis B (n = 50) were negative. HCVcAg was detected in sera from 57 of 73 individuals (78.1%) with anti-HCV antibody. Similarly, HCV RNA was detected in sera from 59 individuals (80.8%) with the AMPLICOR HCV as the qualitative test (AMPLICOR HCV test) and in sera from 54 individuals (74.0%) by the AMPLICOR HCV Monitor as the quantitative test (AMPLICOR Monitor test). Concentrations of HCVcAg and HCV RNA (measured by the AMPLICOR Monitor test) correlated significantly (r = 0.8, P < 0.001). On seroconversion panels, HCVcAg was detected during the early stage of infection, when anti-HCV antibodies had not been produced. This assay for HCVcAg is simpler than assays for HCV RNA based on gene technology and shows specificity and sensitivity equivalent to those of the AMPLICOR HCV test.  (+info)