Hepatitis C virus infection in French hemodialysis units: a multicenter study

J Med Virol. 2000 May;61(1):44-51.


The aims of the study were: (i) to evaluate the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies (third generation tests) and RNA (standardized ultrasensitive RT-PCR assay) in a large cohort of hemodialysis patients, and (ii) to correlate HCV markers with bioclinical features and alanine-aminotransferase (ALT) activity. Antibodies were assayed by two methods in 1,323 patients (60% men, median age 65 years, median hemodialysis duration 3 years) attending 25 French hemodialysis centers including 9 self-care units. RNA was assayed using the Cobas Amplicor 2.0 method in pooled samples from 10 anti-HCV(-/-) patients and on individual samples from the other patients. Of the 16.3% patients (range 0-44%) tested (+/+) for HCV antibodies (anti-HCV), 2.3% tested (+/-) and 81.4% tested (-/-). 70% of the anti-HCV(+/+) patients and 3% of the HCV(+/-) patients were RNA(+). Pooled analysis revealed that 5/1077 anti-HCV(-/-) patients (0.5%) were RNA(+); all 5 displayed subsequently an increase in ALT and became anti-HCV(+/+). Mean ALT was higher (multiple of normal) in anti-HCV(+/+) RNA(+) patients than in anti-HCV(+/+) RNA(-) patients (0.46 +/- 0.08 vs. 0.22 +/- 0.07, P < 0.0001) and similar in all the RNA(-) patients, whatever their HCV antibody status. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that HCV status was linked to hemodialysis duration, previous kidney transplantation and positive anti-HBc. To summarize, the determination of the RNA status of anti-HCV(+/-) patients may have clinical relevance if a policy of isolation is contemplated. Standardized ultrasensitive RT-PCR assay combined with a pooling strategy is a promising method for use in epidemiological studies.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Hemodialysis Units, Hospital*
  • Hepatitis C / blood
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Serologic Tests


  • Biomarkers
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • RNA, Viral
  • Alanine Transaminase