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Gastroenterol Jpn. 1991 Jul;26 Suppl 3:142-7.

Hepatitis E virus (HEV): the novel agent responsible for enterically transmitted non-A, non-B hepatitis.

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Molecular Virology Department, Genelabs Incorporated, Redwood City, CA 94063.


A normally endemic form of viral hepatitis is the cause of major epidemic outbreaks in developing countries. This disease has a global distribution and has been referred to as water-borne, epidemic or enterically transmitted non-A, non-B hepatitis (ET-NANBH). Although the fecal-oral route of transmission predominates, person-to-person routes of exposure were also suggested in some epidemiologic studies. The disease has been documented as having an extremely high mortality in pregnant women (approximately 20%). Sporadic cases of ET-NANBH, as well as imported travel exposures, have been reported in developed countries. Molecular cloning was hampered by the lack of a tissue culture system for virus propagation, however, an available animal model and a newly developed non-specific amplification procedure were used to clone and identify an exogenous cDNA (ET1.1) from a Burma-isolate infected animal. Molecular clones were also identified by immunoscreening of a cDNA library made from a fecal specimen collected from a Mexican outbreak of ET-NANBH. The isolation and sequencing of a set of overlapping cDNA clones had led to the recognition that this form of hepatitis is caused by a virus unlike any of the other viral hepatitis agents. The molecular characterization of HEV will lead to important pathobiologic insights and hasten the development of potentially useful diagnostic and therapeutic products for ET-NANBH.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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