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Infection. 1998 May-Jun;26(3):173-7.

HCV genotypes in patients with chronic hepatitis C in Croatia.

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Dept. of Laboratory Medicine, University Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Zagreb, Croatia.


The determination of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype is an important epidemiological parameter in patients with chronic hepatitis C, while its clinical significance is still a matter of debate. The HCV genotypes in a group of 203 Croatian patients with chronic hepatitis C were examined. Genotypes were correlated to different risk factors, age, duration of the disease, liver histology activity and level of viremia. HCV-RNA was detected in each serum by means of reverse transcription PCR. Genotypes were determined from the amplificate by reverse hybridization in a line probe assay. The level of viremia was assessed by branched DNA (bDNA) signal amplification. The most common genotype was 1b (61.1% of patients), followed by 3a (26.1%), and 1a (10.8%). Other genotypes such as 2a and 4 were only rarely found in our patients (2%). Genotype 1b was most commonly acquired via blood transfusion, while genotype 3a was strongly related to intravenous drug use. Genotype 1b was associated with older age (mean 42.6 vs 29.3 years), longer duration of the disease (mean 6.0 vs 3.5 years), higher histologic activity score (mean 13.2 vs 10.6) and higher viremia (mean 9.06 vs 5.93 Meq/ml) at statistically significant levels (p < 0.001) when compared to genotype 3a. The prevalence of HCV genotypes follows the patterns of southeastern European countries, except for a lower prevalence of genotype 2. The observation that genotype 1b is associated with higher viremia and more severe liver injury is confirmed.

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