Phylogenetic analysis of hepatitis C virus strains and risk factors associated with infection and viral subtypes among Iranian patients.J Med Virol. 2014 Aug; 86(8):1342-9.JM
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has infected approximately 170 million people worldwide. While the seroprevalence of anti-HCV antibody among Iranian blood donors is 0.13%, HCV infection is prevalent in 59-80% of Iranian injecting drug users. One hundred seventy-eight anti-HCV positive patients were referred to the Gastroenterology Department at the Taleghani Hospital (Tehran, Iran) between June 2007 and June 2012. Out of 178 samples, 142 were positive for HCV-RNA. HCV subtypes were determined using phylogenetic analysis of the NS5B or 5'UTR/core regions. Of 142 viremic patients, 71 (50%) were infected with HCV subtype 1a, 43 (30.3%) with subtype 3a, 20 (14.1%) with subtype 1b, 3 (2.1%) with subtype 4d, 2 (1.4%) with subtype 4a, 1 (0.7%) with subtype 2b, and 1 (0.7%) with subtype 6a. Interestingly, genetic analysis of a sub-genomic fragment from one patient identified a non-subtypeable HCV genotype-3 strain. There was a significant association between HCV subtype and a history of injecting drug use (P = 0.003). Subtype 3a was predominant among patients with such a history. Injecting drug use was associated with younger age (P < 0.001). HCV subtype was also significantly associated with a history of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (P = 0.02). Subtype 1a was more frequent among patients with such a history. In addition, history of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy was significantly associated with older age (P = 0.002). In conclusion, while HCV subtype 1a is predominant among infected Iranian individuals, subtype 3a is predominant among Iranian injecting drug users.