Background: Recently, cases of chronic hepatitis E have been identified in immunocompromised patients.
Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of anti-HEV IgG antibodies and the persistence of HEV-RNA in sera of immunocompromised patients with regular follow-up at Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris, France.
Study design: 307 samples collected from 261 HIV-infected patients and 46 kidney transplant (KT)-patients were retrospectively tested for the presence of the following hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection markers: anti-HEV IgM antibodies, anti-HEV IgG antibodies, anti-HEV IgG avidity index, and HEV-RNA.
Results: Anti-HEV IgG positive serology was found in 4 HIV-infected patients (1.5%) and 3 KT-patients (6.5%), leading to an overall seroprevalence of 2.3%. HEV-RNA detection was not observed among 55 HIV-patients at higher risk of chronic HEV (<200 CD4 cells/mm(3), elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, and/or positive anti-HEV antibodies) and among 44 KT-patients. None of the seven patients had anti-HEV IgM antibodies, thereby excluding any acute infection. The IgG avidity index confirmed past HEV infection among tested patients.
Conclusions: The low seroprevalence observed in the Paris region does not warrant a systematic evaluation of HEV infection in immunocompromised patients. However, HEV infection must be examined as a possibility if unexplained increases in ALT should occur and after more common viral hepatitis infections are excluded.
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