Rationale: Acute hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections are usually self-limiting in immunocompetent patients. HEV persistence has been described only in immunosuppressed patients such as solid-organ transplant recipients, patients with hematological diseases, or patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Patient concerns: A 61-year-old patient was admitted in hospital for jaundice and asthenia.
Diagnoses: The patient had underlying cirrhosis and developed a chronic HEV infection.
Intervention: Ribavirin therapy was initiated.
Outcomes: Ribavirin therapy for 12 months allowed the clearance of the virus and HEV viral load remained undetectable thereafter. This patient had taken no immunosuppressive drugs, was not suffering from any autoimmune disease and was not infected with HIV. We studied the patient's anti-HEV immune response months after the viral clearance. His peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were stimulated in vitro by HEV peptides. The patient had a mild T lymphopenia, but polyclonal stimulation of PBMC showed a robust T cell response. The response of his anti-HEV specific interferon-γ producing T cells was low.
Lessons: Other studies are now needed to identify the population with a chronic evolution of HEV infection despite no apparent immunodepression.