HGV/GBV-C infection in liver transplant recipients: Antibodies to the viral E2 envelope glycoprotein protect from de novo infection

Enrico Silini, Luca Belli, Alberto B. Alberti, Margherita Asti, Antonella Cerino, Morena Bissolati, Gianfranco Rondinara, Luciano De Carlis, Domenico Forti, Mario U. Mondelli, Gaetano Ideo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Aims: Liver transplantation for end-stage liver cirrhosis provides a useful model to investigate the pathogenetic role of hepatotropic viral agents. Recently, a new member of the Flaviviridae family, provisionally named HGV/GBV-C virus, has been associated with acute and chronic non A-E hepatitis. We studied 136 patients with cirrhosis consecutively transplanted at our institution for evidence of hepatitis G virus infection and correlation with the patients' clinical course. Methods: All patients survived for at least 6 months after transplantation (median follow-up 44 months) and underwent routine liver biopsies. Hepatitis G virus infection was studied using both direct viral RNA identification by RT-PCR and indirect detection of antibodies to the E2 glycoprotein. Results: There was a high frequency of the hepatitis G virus among patients undergoing liver transplantation, with HGV RNA and anti-E2 prevalence rates of 18.4% and 26.5%, respectively. HGV RNA prevalences significantly increased after transplantation (47.8%), with 47.3% rate of new infections in susceptible subjects. Anti-E2 antibodies were significantly more prevalent among patients transplanted for HCV-related cirrhosis and represented a strong protective factor against hepatitis G virus reinfection or recurrent infection. No correlation was found between HGV RNA or anti-E2 prevalences and survival after transplantation or rates of recurrent liver damage. Conclusions: All available evidence suggests that, although liver transplant patients are heavily exposed to hepatitis G virus both before and after transplantation, hepatitis G virus does not induce liver disease in this setting. Most infections appear to be self-limited and induce a protective immunity which is marked by the presence of anti-E2 antibodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-540
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


  • Anti-E2 antibodies
  • GBV-C
  • HGV
  • Liver transplant
  • Recurrent hepatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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