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BACKGROUND: A newly discovered DNA virus, transfusion-transmitted virus (TTV), has been implicated as a cause of post-transfusion hepatitis. We investigated the frequency of TTV viraemia in UK blood donors, and the extent to which TTV contaminates blood products such as factor VIII and IX clotting factors. We also investigated the possible aetiological role of TTV in cryptogenic fulminant hepatic failure (FHF). METHODS: We extracted DNA from plasma of blood donors and patients with FHF, and from blood products (factor VIII and IX clotting-factor concentrates, immunoglobulin preparations). We detected TTV by PCR using primers from a conserved region in the TTV genome. FINDINGS: TTV viraemia was detected in 19 (1.9%) of 1000 non-remunerated regular blood donors. Infection occurred more frequently in older donors (mean age 53 years), compared with the age prolife of donors infected with hepatitis C virus and other parenterally-transmitted viruses. TTV contamination was found in ten (56%) of 18 batches of factor VIII and IX concentrate manufactured from such non-remunerated donors, and in seven (44%) of 16 batches of commercially available products. Whereas solvent or detergent treatment had little effect on the detection of TTV in factor VIII and IX by PCR, this virucidal step seemed to inactivate TTV infectivity. TTV infection was detected in four (19%) of 21 patients with FHF; in three cases, infection was detected at the onset of disease and could thus not be excluded from its aetiology. INTERPRETATION: TTV viraemia is frequent in the blood-donor population, and transmission of TTV through transfusion of blood components may have occurred extensively. Clinical assessment of infected donors and recipients of blood and blood products, and assessment of TTV's aetiological role in hepatic and extra-hepatic disease, are urgently needed.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Lancet

Publication Date

18/07/1998

Volume

352

Pages

191 - 195

Keywords

Adult, Aged, Blood Component Transfusion, Blood Donors, Child, DNA Viruses, Female, Hemophilia A, Hepatic Encephalopathy, Hepatitis, Viral, Human, Humans, Japan, Male, Middle Aged, Polymerase Chain Reaction, United Kingdom, Viremia