When infected, Hepatitis C can cause an infection to the liver, Hepatitis C is mainly transmitted through the blood. Hepatitis C Virus, also called HCV, initially causes a usually acute, undetected infection. In 80 percent of cases, the acute infection progresses to a chronic infection. An acute infection of HCV usually does not give rise to symptoms, in 10 percent of cases an acute infection can lead to jaundice. If there is a chronic HCV infection, it can last up to 6 months or longer. In the case of a chronic infection, the virus remains dormant without causing symptoms, but the virus can affect life, so regular monitoring is important. In 20 percent of cases, a chronic infection leads to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
A total of 7 HCV genotypes are known. The origin of these genotypes is due to the fact that HCV replication is performed without proofreading, which leads to a very high mutation rate and thus an enormous diversity of the virus.
HCV RNA can already be detectable after 1 week after the infection, HCV is then mainly detected in the plasma. The HCV PCR kit performs diagnosis based on detection of expression of 5′ UTR. 5’UTR contains important sequence and structural elements essential for HCV translation and RNA replication. The 5′ UTR harbors an internal ribosome entry site, IRES, which directs viral protein translation through a cap-independent mechanism. Because expression of 5′ UTR takes place, it can be shown whether HCV is present or not.
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