Risk factors and immune response to hepatitis E viral infection among acute hepatitis patients in Assiut, Egypt

Egypt J Immunol. 2010;17(1):73-86.


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is a common cause of acute viral hepatitis (AVH) in Egypt. We aimed to identify risk factors of HEV among acute hepatitis cases, measure HEV specific immune response to differentiate between symptomatic and asymptomatic infections. The study included symptomatic acute hepatitis (AH) patients (n = 235) and asymptomatic contacts (n = 200) to HEV cases. They completed a lifestyle questionnaire, screened for common hepatotropic viruses. Blood and serum samples were collected from patients and contacts after onset of disease and follow-up samples collected until convalescence. PBMC were separated and tested for specific HEV T-cell response by INF-gamma ELISPOT assay. Serum samples were tested for IgM and IgG anti-hepatitis E virus by ELISA. IgM antibodies to HAV were detected in 19 patients (8.1%), 37 (15.7%) with HBV, 10 (4.3%) with HCV. HEV infection was identified in 42 (16%) patients with AVH. Of the 200 contacts, 14 (7%) had serological evidence of recent HEV asymptomatic infection, showed stronger CMI responses than HEV infected subjects (2540 +/- 28 and 182 +/- 389 ISCs/106 cells, respectively; P < 0.05). In conclusion, HEV is a major cause of AVH in Egypt. Asymptomatic HEV patients are likely to have stronger immune responses including CMI responses, than symptomatic cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Asymptomatic Infections
  • Egypt
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatitis E / immunology*
  • Hepatitis E virus / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M