J Gen Virol. 2012 Mar 28. [Epub ahead of print]
Epidemic history of hepatitis C virus infection in two remote communities in Nigeria, West Africa.
AbstractWe investigated the molecular epidemiology and population dynamics of HCV infection among indigenes of two semi-isolated communities in North-Central Nigeria. Despite remoteness and isolation, ~15% of the population had serological or molecular markers of HCV infection. Phylogenetic analysis of the NS5b sequences obtained from 60 HCV infected residents showed that HCV variants belonged to genotype 1 (n=51; 85%) and genotype 2 (n=9; 15%). All sequences were unique and intermixed in the phylogenetic tree with HCV sequences from people infected from other West African countries. The high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing of the HCV hypervariable region 1 and an empirical threshold error correction algorithm were used to evaluate intra-host heterogeneity of HCV strains of genotype 1 (n=43) and genotype 2 (n=6) from residents of the communities. Analysis revealed a rare detectable intermixing of HCV intra-host variants among residents. Identification of genetically close HCV variants among all known groups of relatives suggests a common intra-familial HCV transmission in the communities. Applying Bayesian coalescent analysis to the NS5b sequences, the most recent common ancestors for genotype 1 and 2 variants were estimated to have existed 675 and 286 years ago, respectively. Bayesian skyline plots suggest that HCV lineages of both genotypes identified in the Nigerian communities experienced epidemic growth for 200-300 years until the mid-20th century. The data suggest a massive introduction of numerous HCV variants to the communities during the 20th century in the background of a dynamic evolutionary history of the hepatitis C epidemic in Nigeria over the last 3 centuries.
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