Although hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of non-A non-B hepatitis, its pathogenic role in fulminant hepatitis remains controversial. A 32-year-old man contracted hepatitis. Serum ALT concentration was reached to 6,970 IU/L, the lowest prothrombin time value was 16% and jaundice and stage II encephalopathy were developed. HCV RNA was detected in this patient by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in sera at the acute phase, and it was undetectable during the remission phase when anti-HCV was found. The entire genome of infected HCV was recovered, cloned, and sequenced from this patient, and compared with the clones of six other chronic hepatitis patients. Phylogenetic analysis revealed a clustering around genotype 2a and a deviation from the other 2a chronic hepatitis strains. Calculating the genetic distance in each subgenomic region revealed that the 5'untranslated region (5'UTR), core, nonstructural (NS) 3, and NS5A were severely deviated. Of 20 clones of the hypervariable region (HVR), 17 showed an identical sequence with the others showing a difference of only one amino acid. HCV was isolated from a fulminant hepatitis patient and its entire genome was recovered; a clustering around genotype 2a was observed, but the sequence deviated especially in 5'UTR, core, NS3, and NS5A; and monoclonality of the HVR sequence was found not only in the fulminant hepatitis patient but in a certain percentage of chronic hepatitis patients.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.