- High prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies in two metropolitan emergency departments in Germany: a prospective screening analysis of 28,809 patients (2012)
- Background and Aims: The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies in Germany has been estimated to be in the range of 0.4–0.63%. Screening for HCV is recommended in patients with elevated ALT levels or significant risk factors for HCV transmission only. However, 15–30% of patients report no risk factors and ALT levels can be normal in up to 20–30% of patients with chronic HCV infection. The aim of this study was to assess the HCV seroprevalence in patients visiting two tertiary care emergency departments in Berlin and Frankfurt, respectively. Methods: Between May 2008 and March 2010, a total of 28,809 consecutive patients were screened for the presence of anti-HCV antibodies. Anti-HCV positive sera were subsequently tested for HCV-RNA. Results: The overall HCV seroprevalence was 2.6% (95% CI: 2.4–2.8; 2.4% in Berlin and 3.5% in Frankfurt). HCV-RNA was detectable in 68% of anti-HCV positive cases. Thus, the prevalence of chronic HCV infection in the overall study population was 1.6% (95% CI 1.5–1.8). The most commonly reported risk factor was former/current injection drug use (IDU; 31.2%) and those with IDU as the main risk factor were significantly younger than patients without IDU (p<0.001) and the male-to-female ratio was 72% (121 vs. 46 patients; p<0.001). Finally, 18.8% of contacted HCV-RNA positive patients had not been diagnosed previously. Conclusions: The HCV seroprevalence was more than four times higher compared to current estimates and almost one fifth of contacted HCV-RNA positive patients had not been diagnosed previously.
- Breaking tolerance to the natural human liver autoantigen cytochrome P450 2D6 by virus infection (2008)
- Autoimmune liver diseases, such as autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and primary biliary cirrhosis, often have severe consequences for the patient. Because of a lack of appropriate animal models, not much is known about their potential viral etiology. Infection by liver-tropic viruses is one possibility for the breakdown of self-tolerance. Therefore, we infected mice with adenovirus Ad5 expressing human cytochrome P450 2D6 (Ad-2D6). Ad-2D6–infected mice developed persistent autoimmune liver disease, apparent by cellular infiltration, hepatic fibrosis, “fused” liver lobules, and necrosis. Similar to type 2 AIH patients, Ad-2D6–infected mice generated type 1 liver kidney microsomal–like antibodies recognizing the immunodominant epitope WDPAQPPRD of cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6). Interestingly, Ad-2D6–infected wild-type FVB/N mice displayed exacerbated liver damage when compared with transgenic mice expressing the identical human CYP2D6 protein in the liver, indicating the presence of a stronger immunological tolerance in CYP2D6 mice. We demonstrate for the first time that infection with a virus expressing a natural human autoantigen breaks tolerance, resulting in a chronic form of severe, autoimmune liver damage. Our novel model system should be instrumental for studying mechanisms involved in the initiation, propagation, and precipitation of virus-induced autoimmune liver diseases.
- Differences in zinc status and the leptin axis in anorexic and recovered adolescents and young adults: a pilot study (2012)
- Background: Evidence from animal studies suggests that leptin metabolism is associated with zinc (Zn) status. However, research investigating this relationship in adolescents and young adults with anorexia nervosa (AN) is scarce; the present study aims to fill that gap. Methods: Serum concentrations of leptin, the soluble leptin receptor (sOB-R) and the free leptin index (FLI) were obtained in healthy control subjects (n=19), acutely ill individuals (n=14) and recovered patients with AN (n=15). Serum Zn concentrations noted in previous research data were also incorporated for all groups. Results: Leptin, FLI and Zn concentrations were higher in recovered subjects with AN when compared with acutely ill AN patients. Remitted patients showed higher sOB-R concentrations but no difference in FLI compared with the control group. Leptin and FLI were lower in the acutely ill patients compared with the control subjects, who showed no differences in Zn concentrations. Zn concentrations were not correlated with leptin, sOB-R or FLI concentrations in any of the three investigated subgroups. Conclusions: The present investigation does not entirely support an association between Zn, Leptin and FLI concentrations in subjects with AN, possibly due to limited statistical power. Further research and replication of the present findings related to the interaction between leptin and Zn is warranted. However, with respect to serum leptin levels the data of the present investigation indicate that acutely ill and remitted patients with AN differ as regards serum leptin concentrations and FLI, which is in line with previous research.