[Molecular characterization of hepatitis E virus in three acute liver failure cases in children in Argentina].
ABSTRACT Strains of hepatitis E virus (HEV) isolated from Argentinian patients with sporadic hepatitis, as well as from swine from Argentina, belong to genotype 3. HEV genotype 3 variants have been described associated with acute liver failure (ALF) in adults from Japan and the United Kingdom. In Argentina, 30% of ALF in adults and children are of unknown aetiology. To study if HEV could be an aetiological agent associated with ALF in children, serum and/or fecal samples fJom 35 children (mean age: 6 years, 20 female, 15 male) were analyzed during 2003 and 2004. HEV RNA was detected by RT-nested PCR with primers designed within ORF 1 and ORF 2 regions. HEV RNA could be detected in three cases. Two were 12-year-old boys fom Buenos Aires province and the third was a 3-year-old girl from Corrientes province. Sequence analysis indicates that the three isolates are distinct from each other but all belong to genotype 3, exhibiting a close relationship with swine and human strains fJom sporadic cases of HEV, previously reported in Argentina. This data suggests a potential link between ALF and HEVin children in Argentina and indicates the need for the determination of HEV status in the differential diagnosis in ALE Further studies would aid in determining the true impact of this infection in Argentina and the potential benefits of a vaccine against HEV presently in phase III trials.