Liver transplant from a donor with occult HEV infection induced chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis in the recipient

J Hepatol. 2012 Feb;56(2):500-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2011.06.021. Epub 2011 Jul 26.


Acute hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is a self-limiting symptomatic or asymptomatic disease. However, as recently observed, it can manifest itself as chronic hepatitis in patients receiving solid organ transplants as well as in patients with HIV infection or severe hematologic disorders. Here, we describe the clinical course of a 73-year-old male patient in whom HEV transmission occurred after receiving a HEV-infected liver from a donor with occult HEV infection, whereby the patient had tested negative for HEV RNA and anti-HEV antibodies shortly before explantation. Anti-HEV IgG, IgM, and HEV RNA were detected in the first tested serum sample of the liver recipient obtained 150 days after liver transplantation and remained positive (earlier samples after OLT were not available). Liver cirrhosis developed within 15 months and the patient died of septic shock. Based on phylogenetic analyses of the donor and recipient's HEV strains, we were able to prove that the occult HEV infection was transmitted via the graft.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Hepatitis E / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis E / transmission*
  • Hepatitis E / virology
  • Hepatitis E virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis E virus / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Tissue Donors


  • RNA, Viral