Since May 2022, physicians in 35 countries have diagnosed more than 1,000 children with mysterious hepatitis: Several children died, and others required liver transplants.
Among the suspected causes were adenoviruses. Two research teams from London and Glasgow now corroborate the suspicion that adenoviruses triggered liver inflammations.
Both teams report that they detected the complete genomes of adeno-associated virus 2 (AAV2) in the livers and blood of most of the patients studied. In addition, they identified two helper viruses that could allow the adenovirus to enter liver cells, thereby increasing susceptibility.
AAV2 cannot replicate without outside help, but both research groups also detected corresponding helpers: the HAdV and HHV6B, known as helper viruses.
However, it is still unclear why the virus causes this serious disease in such large numbers. In principle, adenoviruses only extremely rarely lead to hepatitis.
The virus has not yet been visualized under the electron microscope; moreover, there is no experimental proof that it really does infect the liver and cause damage there. Further studies are urgently needed.