Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be caused by an infection with a
virus, but poisonous (toxic) substances can also cause it. Researchers have identified
several of the viruses responsible for hepatitis, however some patients with hepatitis show
no evidence of being infected with known hepatitis viruses. Researchers call conditions
like this, seronegative hepatitis. It means that a patient has hepatitis but he/she does
not have evidence in their blood of a viral infection.
Seronegative hepatitis is often complicated by autoimmune disorders and associated severe
disorders especially, fulminant hepatitis of childhood and post-hepatitis aplastic anemia.
Researchers have attempted to identify the cause of these conditions but have been
unsuccessful. Therefore, this study was developed to collect blood and stool samples from
patients with seronegative hepatitis in order to help identify the virus responsible.
While several viruses have been identified as agents of liver inflammation, some proportion
of cases of acute hepatitis are seronegative and show no evidence of prior infection with
known hepatitis viruses A, B, C, or E. Seronegative acute hepatitis is often complicated by
autoimmune phenomena or late severe consequences, especially fulminant hepatitis of
childhood and post-hepatitis aplastic anemia. Efforts in the Hematology Branch to identify
an infectious agent in these latter two syndromes have been unsuccessful, probably because
they are immune-mediated and also accompanied by massive tissue destruction. We now propose
systematic collection of blood and fecal samples from patients with seronegative acute
hepatitis for purposes of virus identification research. Samples will be collected from
patients in United States Army clinics; patient identifiers will be employed.