The objective of this study was to evaluate, by developing one-step real-time PCR, the outcome of superinfection with hepatitis D virus (HDV) genotype I in woodchucks that were chronic carriers of woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) and did not show relevant signs of liver damage. Three woodchucks ( Marmota monax ) chronically infected with WHV were superinfected with a woodchuck HDV inoculum. The evolution of the WHV and HDV infections was monitored by quantifying HDV-RNA, WHV-DNA, and HDV-WHV antigens and antibodies. WHV and HDV sequencing was also performed and liver markers were evaluated. Liver damage was assessed using the Ishak method. All woodchucks showed a high HDV viral load, antigenemia and short survival after superinfection. Histopathological examination of autoptic liver samples showed massive liver necrosis compatible with an acute fatal course of hepatitis. The WHV sequencing showed that the virus population was not substituted by the WHV inoculum. The HDV sequencing performed during superinfection and at autopsy indicated amino acid changes in immune dominant regions of the HDV antigen. The strong correlation between acute infection with HDV genotype I and rapid and fatal liver failure indicates that HDV can be an important factor in the prognosis of HDV-WHV-superinfected woodchucks.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 1, 2008
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