Backround/Aims: The aims of this study were to examine the decline of IgG anti-HEV antibodies over a period of 7 years in rhesus monkeys experimentally infected with hepatitis E virus, and to assess the protectivity of these antibodies by challenging the monkeys with a heterologous i solate of hepatitis E virus, 5 years after the primary inoculation.
Methods: Nine rhesus monkeys (six non-pregnant and three pregnant at the time of hepatitis E virus inoculation) were followed serologically and biochemically for 7 years post-inoculation. Based on regression analysis, estimated time for IgG anti-HEV titers to reach 1:100 or 1:50 was calculated. Three of the monkeys inoculated initially with AKL-90 isolate and challenged 2 years later with PUN-85 isolate of hepatitis E virus were rechallenged with KOL-91 isolate of the virus, 5 years post-primary inoculation. Evidence of viral replication was assessed by measuring serum alanine aminotransferase levels, excretion of the virus in feces or bile (reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction) and rise in IgG anti-HEV titers (ELISA).
Results: None of the challenged monkeys showed evidence of disease. In contrast to extensive replication of the virus in anti-HEV-negative control monkeys, limited replication was noted in one of the challenged monkeys. The estimated time for the titers to reach 1:100 or 1:50 varied from 3.15 to 44.9 years (19.4±11.6 years) and 6.9 to 84.3 years (35.4±21.3 years), respectively. Decline in titers was independent of the pregnancy status at the time of infection or reexposure of the monkeys to HEV.
Conclusion: The results show persistence of IgG anti-HEV antibodies for a long time and protectivity of low titered antibodies against reinfection, leading to disease even after intravenous exposure to a heterologous isolate of hepatitis E virus.
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Accepted: September 7, 1998
Received in revised form: July 23, 1998
Received: March 30, 1998
© 1999 Published by Elsevier Inc.