Hepatitis E virus in Scottish blood donors

Vox Sang. 2013 Nov;105(4):283-9. doi: 10.1111/vox.12056. Epub 2013 Jun 13.


Background and objectives: Published prevalence figures for hepatitis E virus (HEV) reveal significant regional differences. Several studies have reported virus transmission via blood transfusion. The aim of this study was to establish HEV seroprevalence and investigate a potential HEV RNA presence in Scottish blood donors.

Materials and methods: IgG and IgM were determined in individual serum samples. HEV RNA was investigated in plasma mini-pools corresponding to 43 560 individual donations using nested PCR. Samples amenable to reamplification with primers from a different region were considered confirmed positives, sequenced and analysed.

Results: A total of 73 of 1559 tested individual sera (4·7%) were IgG positive, none tested positive for IgM. Plasma mini-pool testing revealed an HEV RNA frequency of 1 in 14 520 donations. Three confirmed positives belonged, as expected to genotype 3.

Conclusions: HEV IgG and RNA figures in Scottish blood donors are lower than those published for the rest of the UK, but sufficiently high to prompt further studies on potential transmission rates and effects of HEV infection, especially for immunosuppressed individuals.

Keywords: HEV; NAT testing; blood donors; serological testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Donors*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis E virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis E virus / immunology
  • Hepatitis E virus / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Scotland
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Hepatitis Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • RNA, Viral