Perinatal Transmission and Viral Evolution of Hepatitis C Virus Quasispecies in Infants Coinfected With HIV


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Abstract

Objectives:Three HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV)-coinfected children and the mothers of 2 were studied to examine the nature of perinatal HCV infection in HIV-coinfected infants and to assess the evolution of viral quasispecies thereafter. Sequences of the hypervariable region in the N terminus of the E2/NS1 region (HVR-1) of the children and their mothers were compared. HCV quasispecies changes in the infants were tracked over several years.Methods:Sequence similarity comparisons and phylogenetic trees were derived from cDNA of plasma isolates. Quantitation of plasma HCV and HIV was performed in the children, as well as CD4 T-cell percentage and liver transaminases.Results:Phylogenetic analysis of the mother-child pairs suggested that transmission of multiple dominant and nondominant variants identified in the mother were seen. HCV diversification in the children was seen as early as 2 months of life. The child with the best immune status and HIV control demonstrated the most diversification throughout.Conclusion:Multiples HCV variants transmitted from mother to child and their early changes in the child may be related to maternal antibody. Variation after the 1st year of life may reflect immunologic pressure from the child. There was no trend suggesting that the presence or absence of selective immunologic pressure affected HCV load or liver transaminase values.

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