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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1998 Jul;13(7):1804-6.

Absence of HCV viraemia in anti-HCV-negative haemodialysis patients.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, University of Ioannina, Blood Bank, University Hospital of Ioannina, Greece.



Immunologic alterations have been reported in chronic haemodialysis (HD) patients. Some HD patients may have, therefore, an inability to produce detectable amounts of serum antibodies to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV). Previous studies have shown the presence of HCV viraemia in anti-HCV-negative HD patients (ranging from 1 to 15%). However, the universal epidemiologic impact of these cases remains uncertain since there are conflicting results. In this context, we conducted a study in an attempt to investigate the presence of HCV viraemia among anti-HCV-negative HD patients in a well-defined geographic area of the northwestern part of Greece.


During a 6 month period, 81 anti-HCV-negative HD patients were tested twice for the presence of HCV RNA, using the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) combined with a DNA enzyme immunoassay (DEIA). At the same time, periodic testing for anti-HCV by two commercially available third generation assays was done. In addition, 15 anti-HCV-positive HD patients and 20 non-HD patients with well established chronic HCV infection used as internal controls were tested for the presence of HCV RNA and anti-HCV.


None of the anti-HCV-negative HD patients were shown to be viraemic by the combined RT-PCR and DEIA method. During the same time period, all remained anti-HCV negative by the third generation assays. By contrast, all the patients with known HCV-infection were positive by the two enzyme immunoassays, whereas 13 anti-HCV-positive HD patients (86.7%) and 18 non-HD patients (90%) were viraemic by RT-PCR.


This study demonstrated that routine HCV RNA testing in anti-HCV-negative HD patients appears not to be necessary particularly when third generation assays are used for the detection of anti-HCV.

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