Absence of Extensive Genetic Heterogeneity of Hepatitis C Virus in Antibody-Negative Chronic Hepatitis C

Absence of Extensive Genetic Heterogeneity of Hepatitis C Virus in Antibody-Negative Chronic Hepatitis C

Absence of Extensive Genetic Heterogeneity of Hepatitis C Virus in Antibody-Negative Chronic Hepatitis C

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) carriers usually have antibodies to HCV; however, there are viremic individuals without these antibodies. To investigate whether variations of the viral genome are responsible for this discrepancy, the nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of HCV capsid and nonstructural regions obtained from 15 viremic patients were examined. These 15 patients were infected with type 1b HCV, and 10 did not have antibody to HCV assayed with second-generation tests. The nucleotide homology of the 5 seropositive and 10 seronegative patients with the HCV prototype sequence were 91.6% and 91.9%, respectively, in the capsid region. There was no apparent difference in the deduced amino acid sequences between the two groups of patients studied (94% vs. 95%). The nucleotide and amino acid sequences of a part of the nonstructural region 3 also showed similar results. These findings suggest that absence of antibodies against both capsid and nonstructural peptides in HCV carriers is not caused by genetic heterogeneity of the viral epitopes.

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