ABSENCE OF HEPATITIS G VIRUS WITHIN LIVER TISSUE OF PATIENTS UNDERGOING LIVER TRANSPLANTATION FOR CRYPTOGENIC CIRRHOSIS1

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Abstract

Background.

Epidemiological studies have detected up to a 9% incidence of hepatitis G (HGV)-RNA in patients with acute and chronic liver disease of unknown etiology. We sought to clarify the role of HGV as a causative agent in cryptogenic cirrhosis by analyzing archival liver tissue for HGV-RNA in patients undergoing orthotopic liver transplantation.

Methods.

Using a computer database, we identified 54 patients who underwent orthotopic liver transplantation for cryptogenic cirrhosis. After using rigorous serologic and histopathologic screening guidelines, 20 patients were studied, 7 of whom had concurrent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). RNA was extracted from archival paraffin-embedded liver tissue; HGV sequences were amplified by nested reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction using primers designed from the 5′ noncoding region.

Results.

HGV-RNA was absent from all 20 liver specimens, including those 7 with HCC. β-actin RNA, used as a positive control for cellular RNA, was isolated from all 20 liver specimens, including the 7 with HCC.

Conclusions.

Utilizing a highly sensitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay for HGV-RNA, we were unable to detect HGV-RNA within the livers of patients with cryptogenic cirrhosis or in the HCC arising within them. This lends further evidence to HGV infection not being a cause of cryptogenic cirrhosis and not being associated with the development of HCC in cryptogenic cirrhosis.

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