Hepatitis G virus (HGV) is a newly described RNA virus that is parenterally transmitted and has been found frequently in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. To determine the impact of hepatitis G virus co-infection on morbidity and mortality following liver transplantation, we measured HGV RNA by polymerase chain reaction in pre and posttransplantation sera from a cohort of patients transplanted for chronic hepatitis C and a control group of patients transplanted for nonviral causes who were negative for hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in serum. The overall prevalence rate of HGV RNA in transplanted patients with chronic hepatitis C was 20.7%. HGV infection was present before transplantation in 13% while it appeared to have been acquired at the time of transplantation in 7.4%. Mean serum alanine aminotransferase activity, hepatic histological activity, and patient and graft survival were similar between HGV-positive and HGV-negative patients. The prevalence rate of HGV RNA in transplanted controls was 64% (P < .01) with a significantly higher rate of acquisition of HGV infection following transplantation (53%, P < .001) when compared with patients with chronic hepatitis C. Mean serum alanine aminotransferase activity was significantly lower in the control patients with HGV infection alone following transplantation than in patients co-infected with hepatitis C (37 ± 9 vs. 70 ± 33 U/L, P < .01). Thus, HGV is frequently found in transplantation patients co-infected with hepatitis C although it appears to have minimal clinical impact. In patients transplanted for nonviral causes of end-stage liver disease, a high rate of hepatitis G acquisition at the time of transplantation may occur but does not appear to predispose to chronic hepatitis.
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