A team from Japan and the USA investigated the fluctuation of serum hepatitis C virus (HCV)-RNA levels in untreated blood donors with chronic HCV infection.
HCV-RNA levels were measured in 281 serum samples from 32 untreated volunteer blood donors, prospectively collected over a period of 14 to 73 months.
The HCV-RNA levels were tested by the branched DNA signal amplification assay.
The mean HCV-RNA levels of each donor ranged from 4.92 log10 to 6.36 log10 gene equivalents/ml (median, 5.79 log10 gene equivalents/ml).
The fluctuations of HCV-RNA levels in individuals, represented by the ratio of the maximum value divided by the minimum value, ranged from a 1.7- to a 141-fold change.
| HCV-RNA levels that fluctuated up to 141-fold were observed.
| Journal of Viral Hepatitis |
Fluctuations with more than a 10-fold change were observed in 5 subjects: 11-, 15-, 17-, 96- and 141-fold changes.
Eleven subjects were followed for at least 5 years; all subjects had fluctuations of HCV-RNA levels greater than 3-fold during the observation period.
The researchers found that no blood donor was observed whose HCV levels changed from a high-level phase to a low-level phase or from low to high.
In addition, it was found that no subjects cleared HCV during follow-up, although 2 had undetectable HCV-RNA levels transiently.
Author I. K. Kuramoto, of Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan, concluded on behalf of the group, "These findings reveal that changes in HCV-RNA levels occur which are unrelated to treatment with interferon and ribavirin."