An outbreak of acute hepatitis of unknown aetiology in children was reported in Scotland in April 20221 and has now been identified in 35 countries2. Several recent studies have suggested an association with human adenovirus (HAdV), a virus not commonly associated with hepatitis. Here we report a detailed case-control investigation and find an association between adeno-associated virus (AAV2) infection and host genetics in disease susceptibility. Using next-generation sequencing (NGS), reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), serology and in situ hybridisation (ISH), we detected recent infection with AAV2 in the plasma and liver samples of 26/32 (81%) hepatitis cases versus 5/74 (7%) of controls. Further, AAV2 was detected within ballooned hepatocytes alongside a prominent T cell infiltrate in liver biopsies. In keeping with a CD4+ T-cell-mediated immune pathology, the Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) class II DRB1*04:01 allele was identified in 25/27 cases (93%), compared with a background frequency of 10/64 (16%; p=5.49 x 10-12). In summary, we report an outbreak of acute paediatric hepatitis associated with AAV2 infection (most likely acquired as a coinfection with HAdV which is required as a "helper virus" to support AAV2 replication) and HLA class II-related disease susceptibility.
|Number of pages||9|
|Early online date||30 Mar 2023|
|Publication status||Published - 18 May 2023|
- Viral genetics