• Pregnancy and pregnancy outcome in hepatitis C type 1b.

      Jabeen, T; Cannon, B; Hogan, J; Crowley, M; Devereux, C; Fanning, L; Kenny-Walsh, E; Shanahan, F; Whelton, M J; Departments of Medicine, Pathology, and Statistics, Cork University Hospital, and, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. (2012-02-03)
      A large cohort of rhesus-negative women in Ireland were inadvertently infected with hepatitis C virus following exposure to contaminated anti-D immunoglobulin in 1977-8. This major iatrogenic episode was discovered in 1994. We studied 36 women who had been infected after their first pregnancy, and compared them to an age- and parity-matched control group of rhesus-positive women. The presence of hepatitis C antibody was confirmed in all 36 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and by recombinant immunoblot assay, while 26 (72%) of the cohort were HCV-RNA-positive (type 1b) on PCR testing. In the 20 years post-infection, all members of the study group had at least one pregnancy, and mean parity was 3.5. They had a total of 100 pregnancies and 85 of these went to term. There were four premature births, one being a twin pregnancy, and 11 spontaneous miscarriages. One miscarriage occurred in the pregnancy following HCV infection. There were two neonatal deaths due to severe congenital abnormalities in the PCR-positive women. Of the children born to HCV-RNA positive mothers, only one (2.3%) tested positive for the virus. Significant portal fibrosis on liver biopsy was confined to HCV-RNA-positive mothers apart from one single exception in the antibody-positive HCV-RNA-negative group. Comparison with the control group showed no increase in spontaneous miscarriage rate, and no significant difference in obstetric complications; birth weights were similar for the two groups.
    • Strategy for the maximization of clinically relevant information from hepatitis C virus, RT-PCR quantification.

      Levis, J; Kenny-Walsh, E; O'Sullivan, K; Horgan, M; Whelton, M; Shanahan, F; Fanning, L; Hepatitis C Unit, Department of Medicine, Clinical Sciences Building, Cork, University Hospital, University College, Cork, Ireland. (2012-02-03)
      BACKGROUND: The increasing clinical application of viral load assays for monitoring viral infections has been an incentive for the development of standardized tests for the hepatitis C virus. OBJECTIVE: To develop a simple model for the prediction of baseline viral load in individuals infected with the hepatitis C virus. METHODOLOGY: Viral load quantification of each patient's first sample was assessed by RT-PCR-ELISA using the Roche MONITOR assay in triplicate. Genotype of the infecting virus was identified by reverse line probe hybridization, using amplicons resulting from the qualitative HCV Roche AMPLICOR assay. RESULTS: Retrospective evaluation of first quantitative values suggested that 82.4% (n=168/204) of individuals had a viral load between 4.3 and 6.7 log(10) viral copies per ml. A few patients (3.4%; n=7/204) have a serum viremia less than the lower limit of the linear range of the RT-PCR assay. Subsequent, prospective evaluation of hepatitis C viral load of all new patients using a model based on the dynamic range of viral load in the retrospective group correctly predicted the dynamic range in 75.9% (n=33/54). CONCLUSION: The dynamic range of hepatitis C viremia extends beyond the linear range of the Roche MONITOR assay. Accurate determination of serum viremia is substantially improved by dilution of specimens prior to quantification.
    • Tissue viral load variability in chronic hepatitis C.

      Fanning, L; Loane, J; Kenny-Walsh, E; Sheehan, M; Whelton, M; Kirwan, W; Collins, J K; Shanahan, F; Department of Medicine, Cork University Hospital, National University of Ireland. (2012-02-03)
      OBJECTIVE: Liver biopsy is regarded as the gold standard for assessing disease activity in chronic hepatitis C, but sampling error is a potential limitation. Whether sampling variability applies equally to viral load assessment as it does to histology is uncertain. To examine this, we compared viral load between right- and left-lobe biopsy specimens from patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). METHODS: Bilobe biopsies were taken from 16 patients who were serum positive for HCV RNA by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Genotype was identified by reverse line probe hybridization. There was an absence of competing risk factors for infectious and other liver diseases in this patient group. Histology and hepatic viral load were assessed blindly. None of the patients had received antiviral therapy at the time of study. RESULTS: Detection of HCV in right and left lobes was concordant with serum positivity in all cases. The viral load between lobes was highly correlated (p = 0.0003, r = 0.79). In contrast, the histological activity indices of inflammation and fibrosis/cirrhosis were poorly correlated between lobes (p = 0.038, r = 0.60, and p = 0.098, r = 0.50, respectively). CONCLUSION: Hepatic viral load variability does not suffer from the same degree of heterogeneity of sampling variability as does histology.