TT virus infection in Italy: prevalence and genotypes in healthy subjects, viral liver diseases and asymptomatic infections by parenterally transmitted viruses

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This study was aimed to evaluate TT virus prevalence in subjects with hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in patients affected by hepatitis of unknown origin (non-A–non-E hepatitis) and in healthy subjects who had not been exposed to HBV, HCV and HIV. A total of 317 subjects were tested; 40 were HBsAg asymptomatic carriers, 57 subjects were anti-HCV positive (45 without chronic hepatitis and 12 with HCV-related chronic hepatitis), and 27 had chronic non-A–non-E hepatitis. Fifty-seven subjects were intravenous drug users (IVDUs) (52 with HCV or/and HIV infections), seven patients underwent a liver transplant for fulminant hepatitis and 137 were healthy subjects from the general population. Overall, TTV-DNA was detected in 62 subjects (19.6%): in 17.9% of the HBsAg carriers, in 14% of the anti-HCV-positive patients (in 8.3% and in 15.5% of patients with and without chronic hepatitis, respectively), in 22.2% of non-A–non-E hepatitis patients, in 22.8% of IVDUs, in 57.1% of fulminant hepatitis patients. TTV-DNA was also found in 20.4% healthy subjects. The prevalence in the different subgroups was not statistically different. The genotypes were identified in 40 of the 62 (64.5%) TTV-DNA positive samples: genotype 1a in 17.5%, 1b in 27.5%, genotype 2 in 27.5%, genotype 3 in 15.0%, genotype 4 in 5.0% and genotype 5 in 7.5%; the genotype distribution in the subsets of patients was not significantly different. In conclusion, this study showed that TTV infection is common in Italy; it is widespread throughout the entire population and five genotypes are present in Sardinia. Our results further dismiss the role of TTV as cofactor in influencing the clinical course of infections with other hepatitis viruses as well as the role of HIV in enhancing TTV transmission and replication.

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