Comparative rates of nucleotide sequence variation in the hypervariable region of E1/E2 and the NS5b region of hepatitis C virus in patients with a spectrum of liver disease resulting from a common source of infection
The association of the severity of liver disease and the molecular evolution of hepatitis C virus (HCV) during chronic infection remains unclear and controversial. To address this we have studied the interpatient variability in the nucleotide sequence of two regions of the HCV genome, E1/E2, which contain the hypervariable region 1 and the nonstructural NS5b region, in a cohort of Irish female patients who were all recipients of a single source of HCV genotype 1b-contaminated anti-D immunoglobulin in 1977 and 1978 and who over the subsequent 20 years developed a spectrum of liver disease. In addition, quasispecies analysis was used to evaluate intrapatient variability in the E1/E2 region in four patients with mild and four with severe disease. Phylogenetic and evolutionary rate analyses of the nucleotide sequences demonstrated that there was no significant difference between those who developed mild disease and those who had progressed to severe disease or cirrhosis. These findings suggest that other factors, either additional viral or host, may be important in the pathogenesis and clinical outcome of chronic hepatitis C virus infection.