Background/aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection by the genotype 1b is significantly associated with a lower rate of response to interferon alfa and with severe liver disease (cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma). This may reflect different intrinsic properties of this genotype 1b and/or chronological differences in the epidemiology of HCV genotypes. To address the issue of variations in genotypes prevalence, we studied in the present report the HCV genotypes of 60 hemodialyzed and kidney recipients according to the date of hemodialysis.
Methods: Anti-HCV antibodies were tested by a second-generation assay (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay 2 and recombinant immunoblot assay 2). HCV RNA was detected by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Genotyping was performed by hybridization of type-specific probes to the amplified product from the 5' untranslated region.
Results: Genotype 1b accounted for more than two thirds of HCV infection in patients who underwent dialysis before 1977 but less than one third in those hemodialyzed after 1985. In contrast, other genotypes (3a, 4a, 5a) appeared in the 1980s.
Conclusions: These data, obtained in an homogenous group of patients, show a changing pattern of HCV genotype prevalence over time and should be considered when discussing the potential clinical implications of HCV genetic variability.