Background: Infection with hepatitis E virus (HEV) in immunocompromised patients can lead to severe liver disease. Treatment options for HEV include peginterferon or ribavirin, routinely also used for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We determined the prevalence and clinical consequences of HEV in United States (US) based patients who underwent liver transplantation (LT) for chronic HCV. Methods: Seroprevalence of HEV in 145 US LT recipients with a history of chronic HCV was determined pre-LT, 1, 3 and 5 years post-LT. All last available samples and all samples in IgM positive patients and post-LT IgG seroconverters were tested for HEV RNA. Results: Overall anti-HEV seroprevalence was 42 %. Five patients were HEV IgM positive pre-LT, one patient had IgM seroconversion post-LT and eight patients had IgG seroconversion post-LT. None of the tested samples were positive for HEV RNA. Eight out of nine of the post-LT seroconverters had been treated for HCV recurrence before or at the moment of seroconversion. Conclusions: LT recipients in the US are at risk of acquiring HEV. Post-LT HCV treatment with interferons and/or ribavirin may have protected patients against chronic HEV. With the arrival of new direct antiviral agents for the treatment of HCV and the elimination of peginterferon and ribavirin from HCV treatment regimens, the prevalence of chronic HEV in this population may rise again.

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Journal BMC Infectious Diseases
Grant This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id fp7/223498 - European management platform for emerging and re-emerging infectious disease entities (EMPERIE)
Koning, L, Charlton, M.R, Pas, S.D, Heimbach, J.K, Osterhaus, A.D.M.E, Watt, K.D.S, … Eijck, A.A. (2015). Prevalence and clinical consequences of Hepatitis E in patients who underwent liver transplantation for chronic Hepatitis C in the United States. BMC Infectious Diseases, 15(1). doi:10.1186/s12879-015-1103-9