The researchers investigated the outcome of an outbreak of acute hepatitis C among healthy volunteers participating in pharmacokinetics studies.
They reported their findings in the October issue of Hepatology.
A total of 15 patients with acute hepatitis C (AHC) were identified among 29 healthy volunteers participating in 2 consecutive studies.
Molecular techniques were used to determine the relatedness of viral strains.
Clinical and virologic follow-up was started to establish the course and outcome of the acute infection.
After presentation, serum liver enzymes and HCV RNA were monitored weekly for 4 months, then monthly for at least 12 months.
| Lobular inflammation was the prevalent histologic finding in the cohort.
| Hepatology |
Liver biopsy was performed 6 to 12 months after AHC diagnosis.
Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis of coding regions for the envelope glycoproteins E1 and E2 was performed.
At presentation, all 15 patients tested HCV RNA-positive and had HCV genotype 2c.
Phylogenetic analysis indicated a common source of infection.
Of the patients, 14 agreed to be followed prospectively.
It was found that infection resolved spontaneously in 8 patients. HCV RNA was undetectable by 4 to 5 months after the presumed time of infection in 5 individuals, and by 8, 13, and 24 months in the remaining 3.
Some 6 patients developed chronic infection.
Liver biopsies performed in 9 subjects, who were HCV RNA-positive 6 months after AHC diagnosis, revealed that the prevalent histologic finding was lobular inflammation.
Author Alberto Larghi, of the San Paolo School of Medicine, concluded on behalf of the group, "Our homogeneous cohort showed a wide spectrum of clinical, virologic, and histologic features.
"More importantly, short-term outcome differed noticeably despite the common source of infection."