Although a marked proportion of thalassemic patients acquire Torque teno virus (TTV) through blood transfusion, its clinical importance is unclear. This study was designed to investigate the clinical importance of TTV infection in thalassemic patients with and without hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection in Iran.
In this case-control study, 107 thalassemic patients on chronic transfusion and 107 healthy individuals were selected. According to HCV and TTV infection status (detected by semi-nested PCR), patients were categorized into 4 groups: TTV and HCV negative, TTV positive, HCV positive, and TTV and HCV positive. Blood ferritin, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels in these 4 groups were assessed.
Approximately half of the thalassemic patients (50.5%) and 27.1% of controls had TTV infection. Thalassemic patients had a greater chance of TTV infection compared to the control group with a sex-adjusted OR of 4.13 (95% CI=2.28-8.13). The increased levels of ALT, AST, and ferritin in the TTV and HCV-infected group were not significantly different from those in the TTV and HCV negative group. Co-infection with TTV and HCV did not significantly increase ALT, AST, and ferritin levels compared to infection with TTV alone.
Although common in thalassemic patients, TTV infection appears to have a negligible role in increasing the severity of liver disease, even when co-infection with HCV occurs.