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J Infect Dis. 2005 Sep 15;192(6):1088-92. Epub 2005 Aug 10.

Reemergence of hepatitis C virus after 8.5 years in a patient with hypogammaglobulinemia: evidence for an occult viral reservoir.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75390-9151, USA. william.lee@utsouthwestern.edu

Abstract

The question of whether viruses persist after apparent clearance of infection remains unanswered. Here, we describe a patient with hypogammaglobulinemia whose acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection appeared to resolve after receipt of interferon therapy, relapse immediately, and then clear spontaneously--only to relapse after receipt of corticosteroid therapy, and clear again, 8.5 years later. Sequencing indicated that the viruses detected during each relapse were virtually identical, with the hypervariable region 1 of E2 appearing to be monoclonal, which is typical of patients with hypogammaglobulinemia. Nonstructural 5A sequences exhibited quasispecies diversity initially but, after 8.5 years, had become monoclonal. The prolonged period of negativity for HCV RNA followed by relapse suggests that HCV may persist in apparent sustained viral responders.

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