Hepatitis C virus genotypes in a cohort of Middle Eastern patients

Ann Saudi Med. 1999 Sep-Oct;19(5):410-2. doi: 10.5144/0256-4947.1999.410.


Background: The epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection has been well characterized in Western Europe, North America and Japan. Less is known about it in other regions of the world. In order to fully understand the relationship between host and virus, it is important to study the effect of virus infection in all regions of the world. In this report, we have analyzed patients from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

Design and methods: Serum from 81 Middle Eastern HCV ELISA-2-positive patients was analyzed for the presence of HCV RNA by PCR. RNA-positive patients were genotyped by selective hybridization of amplicons to HCV genotype-specific oligonucleotides (InnoLipa2, Innogenetics, Belgium). Where possible, data was also obtained on racial origin, liver histology, serum ALT, prothrombin time, albumin, and risk factors for infection.

Results: Sixty-five of 81 patients were HCV RNA-positive. A higher proportion of Middle Eastern patients were genotype 4 compared to equivalent studies from Western Europe, USA and Japan. However, the most common genotype was 1a. No significant difference in genotype was found between patients with chronic hepatitis and patients with cirrhosis.

Conclusions: Eight of 65 (12%) patients were genotype 4, but the most common genotype was 1a, a âWesternâ genotype (24/65, 37%). The mean age of cirrhotics was low compared to Western studies. This may be due to infection in early childhood or race-related host factors. Twelve of 65 patients (18%) were not classifiable for genotype using InnoLipa2. This may be due to multiple infecting genotypes in these patients, or unusual, non 13 HCV genotypes which cannot be classified by InnoLipa2.