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Hum Genet. 2009 Nov;126(5):697-705. doi: 10.1007/s00439-009-0721-y. Epub 2009 Jul 23.

Evidence for a dominant major gene conferring predisposition to hepatitis C virus infection in endemic conditions.

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Laboratoire de Génétique Humaine des Maladies Infectieuses, Faculté de Médecine Necker, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), U550, 75015 Paris, France.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV), infecting 170 million people worldwide, is a major public health problem. In developing countries, unsafe injections and blood transfusions are thought to be the major routes of transmission. However, our previous work in a population from Egypt, endemic for HCV, revealed highly significant familial correlations, strongly suggesting the existence of both familial transmission of the virus and genetic predisposition to HCV infection. We investigated the hypothesis of genetic predisposition by carrying out a segregation analysis of HCV infection in the same population. We used a logistic regression model simultaneously taking into account a major gene effect, familial correlations and relevant risk factors. We analyzed 312 pedigrees (3,703 subjects). Overall HCV seroprevalence was 11.8% and increased with age. The main associated risk factors were previous parenteral treatment for schistosomiasis and blood transfusions. We found strong evidence for a dominant major gene conferring a predisposition to HCV infection. The frequency of the predisposing allele was 0.013, reflecting a strong predisposition to HCV infection in 2.6% of the subjects, particularly those under the age of 20. This study provides evidence for the involvement of host genetic factors in susceptibility/resistance to HCV infection in endemic conditions.

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