The clinical significance of GB virus-C/hepatitis G virus (GBV-C/HGV) infection in chronic hepatitis B is not well known and its role in the outcome of liver disease was investigated.Methods:
HGV-RNA and antibody to HGV (anti-E2) were studied in 125 patients with chronic hepatitis B (41 with multiple hepatitis virus exposure), 82 asymptomatic HBsAg carriers and 103 healthy adults.Results:
In chronic hepatitis B, HGV-RNA was more frequent in patients with HDV infection and/or anti-HCV positivity than in those without (29% vs 6%, p<0.0001), mainly in drug addicts (38%). At diagnosis the overall prevalence of any marker (HGV-RNA plus anti-E2) was similar in chronic hepatitis due to HBV alone (17%), in HBsAg carriers (16%) and in healthy adults (17%) and increased to 58% in those exposed to HDV and/or HCV. During 1-11 years of follow-up, HGV infection persisted in 70% of patients with chronic hepatitis B. About 40% of HGV persistently coinfected patients underwent sustained biochemical remission, whereas continuing disease activity was observed in 80% of patients who cleared HGV-RNA.Conclusions:
In chronic HBV infection the rate of exposure to HGV is similar to that in healthy adults, except for high risk patients. Long lasting HGV coinfection or anti-E2 seroconversion did not modify the course of chronic hepatitis B.