Laboratory challenges in the diagnosis of hepatitis E virus.
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Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an RNA virus that is an important cause of both acute and chronic hepatitis worldwide. To date, there are eight HEV genotypes that can infect mammals. HEV-1 and HEV-2 infect exclusively humans, while HEV-3 and HEV-4 infect humans and various animals, mainly pigs and deer. Additionally, two new genotypes (HEV-5 and HEV-6) infect mainly wild boar. Recently, newly discovered genotypes HEV-7 and HEV-8 were found to infect camels and possibly humans. Nevertheless, the epidemiological distribution of HEV-7 is not well established. HEV-8 is another newly discovered genotype that was identified in 2016 in Chinese Bactrian camels. Although faecal-oral transmission is the most common route of HEV transmission, HEV can be vertically transmitted from infected mothers to their fetuses. HEV may also spread by zoonotic transmission from infected animals to humans and through person-to-person contact. Nowadays, since the number of reported cases linked to blood donations is increasing annually, HEV is recognized as a transfusion-transmitted virus. Laboratory diagnostic techniques vary in their specificity and sensitivity for HEV detection. Direct techniques allow for detection of the viral proteins, antigens and viral nucleic acid, while HEV-specific IgG and IgM antibodies can help establish a diagnosis in acute and chronic infections. In this review, we will discuss recent technologies in the laboratory diagnosis of HEV, including serological and molecular methods to assess the specificity and sensitivity of currently available HEV commercial assays.
- Biomedical Sciences [208 items ]