M. Enomoto, S. Nishiguchi, K. Fukuda
May 1, 1998
GB virus C/hepatitis G virus (GBV‐C/HGV) infection seems to be common among patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We studied retrospectively the proportions of patients with GBV‐C/HGV RNA and antibodies to the GBV‐C/HGV second envelope protein (anti‐E2) among 149 subjects with chronic hepatitis C who had received interferon alfa. The clinical characteristics of patients with GBV‐C/HGV RNA or anti‐E2 were examined, as was the efficacy of the treatment. Stored serum specimens were tested for GBV‐C/HGV RNA by the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and for anti‐E2 by an enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assay. Of the 149 patients before therapy, 8 (5%) had GBV‐C/HGV RNA only, 72 (48%) had anti‐E2 only, and 4 (3%) had both. The mean age of patients with GBV‐C/HGV RNA (some with anti‐E2) was significantly less than that of patients with anti‐E2 only. Results of laboratory and histological evaluations were not different depending on the presence of GBV‐C/HGV RNA or anti‐E2. The GBV‐C/HGV RNA titer decreased during therapy in all 12 patients with GBV‐C/HGV RNA; only 4, with a low titer before therapy and with anti‐E2 detected at some time, had sustained clearance of GBV‐C/HGV. Our results suggested that half of the patients with chronic hepatitis C had been exposed to GBV‐C/HGV, but in almost all, the virus had been cleared; also, even chronic GBV‐C/HGV infection did not affect the severity of the disease arising from HCV. Interferon alfa treatment was sometimes effective against GBV‐C/HGV, and anti‐E2 may be associated with clearance of GBV‐C/HGV.