Are Human Platelets A Site Of HCV Replication?


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Author : A. Floreani, M.R. Biasin*, G. Marchelle*, A. Graziotto, M. Chiaramonte, D. Infantolino*. Dept. of Gastroenterology, Institute of Internal Medicine, University of Padova (Italy). * Pathology Dept., U.S.L. N.8, Castelfranco V. to (Italy).

HCV-RNA can be detected in serum, plasma, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), included different lymphocyte subpopulations. Platelets (PLTS) have been found to be directly infected by viruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus and herpes simplex. In HCV chronic infection a significant autoimmune reaction to PLTS, leading to thrombocypenia has been documented. AIM: to investigate whether PLTS may be identified as sites of extrahepatic replication of HCV. METHODS: Serum, plasma and platelet-rich plasma samples from 19 chronically HCV-infected patients (4 1a, 8 1b, 4 2c, 3 3a according to Simmonds) and from 4 healthy controls were assayed. Platelet-rich plasma was acidified with 1M citrate, centrifuged and pellets were washed 3 times with Tyrode's solution. PBMC contamination in platelet-rich plasma was excluded by cytological assay. Total RNA was extracted from the washed PLTS by a Chomezynski-Sacchi modified method. HCV-RNA was tested by RT-nested PCR using primers in 5' UTR region, followed by DEIA hybridization (Sorin Biomedica, Saluggia, Italy). RESULTS: All the 19 anti-HCV+ve patients showed HCV-RNA positivity in both serum and plasma with the same sensitivity. HCV- RNA was detected in the PLTS in 17 out of 19 HCV-RNA+ve subjects (89.5%). None of the controls exhibited HCV-RNA positivity by RT-PCR in serum, plasma, and PLTS. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary data indicate that human PLTS are a possible site of extrahepatic replication of HCV. Besides an autoimmune mechanism, a direct cytopathic effect of HCV towards the PLTS may be suggested in chronically HCV- infected subjects.

Source: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases - 1996 Annual Meeting

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