1. The Institute for Disease Prevention and Control of PLA, Beijing, China.
2. Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.
3. State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Medical School, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China.
4. The 302 nd Hospital of PLA, Beijing, China.
5. Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
* These authors contributed equally to the work.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) heterogeneity accounts for the failure of effective vaccine development and the lack of successful anti-viral therapy in some patients. Little is known about the immune response to HCV peptides and the region or race specific genotypes in China. The objective of this study was to characterize HCV antibody immune response to HCV peptides and HCV genotypes in different regions and races of China. A total of 363 serum samples were collected from HCV carriers in 6 regions in China. The immune response to HCV peptides was evaluated by ELISA. HCV genotypes were examined using nested RT-PCR. We found that the anti-HCV antibody neutralization rates were significantly different among the serum samples from different areas or from different races in the same area. For samples from Tibet and Sinkiang, the rates of neutralization by HCV peptides were only 3.2% and 30.8%, respectively. The genotypes of samples from Tibet and Sinkiang were apparently heterogeneic and included type I, II, III and multiple types (I/II/III, I/II, I/III, II/III). One specific sample with multiple-genotype (I/II/III) HCV infection was found to consist of type I, II, III, II/III and an unclassified genotype. These studies indicate that the anti-HCV antibody immune response to HCV peptides varied across regions and among races. The distribution of HCV genotypes among Tibetans in Tibet and Uighurs in Sinkiang was different from that in the inner areas of China. In addition, a “master” genotype, type II, was found to exist in HCV infection with multiple HCV genotypes.
Keywords: Hepatitis C virus, anti-HCV, ELISA, neutralization test, genotype