ObjectivesThe relationship between HCV genotype and the development of more serious liver disease has not been clearly established. This study was to investigate the distribution pattern of HCV genotypes in Korea and their relationship to the viremic level and to progression of chronic liver disease.MethodsStudy population was 217 patients with type C chronic liver disease. They were divided into 4 groups: 83 patients with near-normal ALT (group 1), 64 patients with elevated ALT (group 2), 20 patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis (group 3) and 50 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (group 4). HCV genotypes were determined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using mixed primer sets, and then the fidelity of genotyping was confirmed by cloning and sequencing. HCV RNA concentration was measured by quantitative competitive RT-PCR for 23 patients in group 2.ResultsThe genotypes could be determined in 166 (76%) out of 217 patients. Type 1b and type 2a were predominantly occurring over the other types in somewhat similar frequency (45% and 51%, respectively). The genotype distribution of type 1b and 2a among four different groups showed 42% and 54% in group 1, 49% and 45% in group 2, 53% and 47% in group 3 and 41% and 57% in group 4; thus there was no significant difference in genotype distribution among 4 different disease groups. However, the viremia levels in patients with genotype 1b infection were significantly higher than those with genotype 2a.ConclusionGenotype 2a infection is as prevalent as genotype 1b in Korea, and genotype 2a infection may pose no less risk for progression of disease despite lower replication level than genotype 1b infection.
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