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J Viral Hepat. 2002 Jan;9(1):36-42.

Fluctuation of serum HCV-RNA levels in untreated blood donors with chronic hepatitis C virus infection.

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Sacramento Medical Foundation Blood Centers, Sacramento, CA 95816-7089, USA.


The hepatitis C virus (HCV)-RNA levels were measured in 281 serum samples from 32 untreated volunteer blood donors prospectively collected over a period of 14-73 months. The HCV-RNA levels were tested by the branched DNA signal amplification assay. The mean HCV-RNA levels of each donor ranged from 4.92 log10-6.36 log10 gene equivalents/mL (25%, median, 75% percentile; 5.51, 5.79, 6.12 log10 gene equivalents/mL). The fluctuations of HCV-RNA levels in individuals, represented by the ratio of the maximum value divided by the minimum value, ranged from a 1.7- to a 141-fold change. Fluctuations with more than a 10-fold change were observed in five subjects: 11-, 15-, 17-, 96- and 141-fold changes. Eleven subjects were followed for at least 5 years; all subjects had fluctuations of HCV-RNA levels greater than 3-fold during the observation period. No blood donor was observed whose HCV levels changed from a high-level phase to a low-level phase or from low to high. No subjects cleared HCV during follow-up, although two had undetectable HCV-RNA levels transiently. These findings reveal that changes in HCV-RNA levels occur which are unrelated to treatment with interferon and ribavirin.

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