Background/aims: Forty-two patients with the diagnosis of acute hepatitis C virus hepatitis were studied to investigate the relationship between hepatitis C virus genotype and progression to chronic infection.
Methods: The patients were followed for more than 1 year (mean age 29 years, male/female ratio 2.5). Intravenous drug use was documented in 15 cases, blood transfusion in four, surgical intervention, dental therapy or other parenteral exposure in 15, and unknown factors in the remaining eight. The evolution to chronicity was diagnosed on the basis of a persistent increase in transaminase levels, the presence of HCV-RNA and the histological pattern of chronic hepatitis.
Results: The majority of cases presented hepatitis C virus infection of subtype 1a (38.1%) or 1b (33.9%). Six cases showed the presence of genotype 3a (14.3%). Subtype 2c was observed in three out of four cases infected with genotype 2. No significant association was demonstrated with documented risk factors. The overall chronicity rate was 59.5%. This value increased to 92% in individuals infected with genotype 1b. By multivariate analysis the age-adjusted odds ratio for infection with genotype 1b as compared with all other genotypes was 14.4 (95% confidence interval; 1.52-137). Moreover, significant differences (p= 0.0002) were present in this group for histological activity index (8.7 as compared with 5-7).
Conclusions: The results of this prospective study are consistent with an independent association between hepatitis C virus genotype 1b and a poor prognosis.