Hepatitis C quantification and sequencing in blood products, haemophiliacs, and drug users.
Simmonds P., Zhang LQ., Watson HG., Rebus S., Ferguson ED., Balfe P., Leadbetter GH., Yap PL., Peutherer JF., Ludlam CA.
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detected specific hepatitis C viral (HCV) RNA sequences in plasma from 15 of 21 haemophiliacs (12 HCV-antibody positive) and 7 of 27 intravenous drug users (13 HCV-antibody positive). Quantification of RNA-positive samples showed high levels of HCV (10(5) to 10(6) copies of RNA/ml) in infected patients. HCV was more frequently found in haemophiliacs infected with human immunodeficiency virus (11/11 HIV-positive and 4/10 HIV-negative patients). HCV-RNA was detected in all batches of commercially available factor VIII tested and in low concentrations in some pools of plasma donations from volunteers. Factor VIII, manufactured from volunteer donations, was uniformly negative by PCR. Phylogenetic analysis of viral sequences showed two distinct groups: one was associated with intravenous drug users and the other with haemophiliacs infected with Scottish factor VIII preparations. Both were distinct from sequences found in commercially available factor VIII.