Non-A, non-B hepatitis: ultrastructural evidence for two agents in experimentally infected chimpanzees

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Science  13 Jul 1979:
Vol. 205, Issue 4402, pp. 197-200
DOI: 10.1126/science.451589


Two different ultrastructural alterations were observed in liver cells of chimpanzees inoculated with plasma derived from two different patients with non-A, non-B hepatitis. During the acute phase of illness in one group of four chimpanzees, peculiar tubular structures, composed of two unit membranes with electron-opaque material in between, were observed in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes. In contrast, these structures were never detected in the liver cells of the second group of five chimpanzees that received the second inoculum, However, nuclear changes, usually associated with aggregates of 20- to 27-nanometer particles, were found in hepatocytes of the latter animals. Although these particles resembled viruses, they were not as uniform as small virus particles often appear. In five other chimpanzees inoculated with non-A, non-B hepatitis material not known to be related to the first two inocula, cytoplasmic structures were found in four, and nuclear structures were found in the remaining one. Thus, all 14 chimpanzees inoculated with transmissible non-A, non-B hepatitis agents could be classified as having either nuclear or cytoplasmic changes. These observations add support to epidemiologic data suggesting that there may be more than one agent of non-A, non-B hepatitis.