Detection of hepatitis C virus RNA in hemodialysis patients

Mary Kuhns, Maria De Medina, Anne McNamara, Lennox J. Jeffers, K. Rajender Reddy, Marcelo Silva, Carmen Ortiz-Interian, Margarita Jimenez, Eugene R. Schiff, Guido Perez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The clinical significance of the high prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis C virus (HCV) in dialysis patients remains undefined. In order to assess the relationship between seropositivity and potential infectivity, 63 patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis were evaluated between April and May 1990. The mean duration of maintenance hemodialysis was 45 mo (range, 13 to 144). Eighty-two percent (52 of 63) had received blood transfusions, and 16% (10 of 63) had a history of iv drug abuse. Serum samples were analyzed by HCV-cDNA polymerase chain reaction; antibodies to HCV structural (core) and nonstructural regions NS3 and NS4 were determined by enzyme immunoassay. Specimens repeatedly reactive for anti-HCV and HCV-RNA-positive samples were tested by HCV MATRIX® dot immunoblot assay and HBV-DNA PCR. Twenty-five percent (16 of 63) were anti-HCV-positive. Of the 16 anti-HCV-positive patients, HCV-RNA was detected in 5 (31%) with the NS3 primers and in 12 (75%) with 5′-noncoding primers. Among the anti-HCV-negative patients, HCV-RNA was detected in 2 (4.3%) of 47 patients. Eleven of the 18 patients with HCV infection (anti-HCV and/or HCV-RNA-positive) had evidence of additional present or past viral infections (human immunodeficiency virus and/or hepatitis B virus). In summary, HCV-RNA is present in at least 75% of antiHCV-positive patients, suggesting that they may be infectious. The detection of HCV-RNA in anti-HCV-negative patients may indicate early or chronic HCV infection not detected by current antibody assays or the inability of these patients to mount or sustain a significant antibody response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1491-1497
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994


  • Hemodialysis
  • Hepatitis B virus DNA
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis C virus RNA
  • Polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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