Background: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections are a major cause of acute hepatitis in developing and industrialized countries. Little is known about anti-HEV immunity in solid-organ recipients.
Methods: We screened 263 solid-organ recipients for anti-HEV immunoglobulin G (IgG) at transplantation. They were followed up for 1 year and tested for HEV RNA and anti-HEV antibodies 1 year after transplantation and if their liver enzyme activities increased.
Results: A total of 38.4% had anti-HEV IgG at transplantation. The mean concentrations (±SD) of anti-HEV IgG at transplantation (8 ± 17.5 U/mL) and 1 year later (6.4 ± 12.0 U/mL, P = .4) were similar. There were 3 de novo HEV infections during the 1-year follow-up among patients who were HEV seronegative before transplantation, giving an annual incidence of 2.1%. We also identified 3 HEV reinfections among patients who were seropositive before transplantation through detection of HEV RNA, for an annual incidence of 3.3%. Their anti-HEV IgG concentrations were 0.3, 2.1, and 6.2 World Health Organization (WHO) units/mL before transplantation. Reinfection of the patient with the lowest IgG concentration at transplantation had evolved to a chronic infection.
Conclusions: Low anti-HEV antibodies (<7 WHO units/mL) seemed not to protect solid-organ recipients. HEV reinfection in immunocompromised patients can lead to chronic infection, as in primary infections.
Keywords: Hepatitis E virus; incidence; reinfection; solid organ transplant recipients.
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