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J Med Virol. 1997 Mar;51(3):225-30.

Analysis of mother-to-infant transmission of hepatitis C virus: quasispecies nature and buoyant densities of maternal virus populations.

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Department of Pediatrics, Meijo Hospital, Nagoya, Japan.


Mother-to-infant transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) was analyzed by sequencing of viral RNA and semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction following ultracentrifugation of maternal sera. In two mother-infant pairs, the hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) and carboxyl terminus of envelope 1 (E1) were sequenced. Both viral sequences in the infants were less diverse than those of their mothers. Although the E1 sequences were almost identical in each mother-infant pair, the HVR1 sequences of the infants were related, but not identical, to those of the mothers. Serial examinations of one infant revealed that the HVR1 nucleotide sequence did not change from 10 days to 3 months of age. In six mothers with uninfected infants, all of the dense fractions of sera contained significant amounts of HCV RNA, whereas in six mothers with infected infants, only two of those fractions contained significant amounts of HCV RNA. These results indicate that the strains of HCV detected in the infants were not dominant in the mothers, but were still transmissible to the infants. As dense fractions are known to contain antibody-bound HCV particles, maternal antibodies against HCV may inhibit viral transmission.

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