History of Hepatitis Delta Virus

1977       Dr. Mario Rizzetto,  gastroenterologist in Turin, Italy, discovered a previously undetected nuclear antigen in hepatocytes of patients with chronic type B hepatitis.  The antigen was similar to Hepatitis B antigen. This new antigen was called the delta antigen. Transmission experiments confirmed the antigen was part of a pathogen that required coinfection with HBV.
early 1980s    Researchers recognized the delta antigen as a virus-like particle. The particle was enveloped with hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg) which explained its need for coinfection. The antigen was found to be associated with the most severe forms of acute and chronic hepatitis in HBsAg-positive patients. By this time, researchers found evidence for delta agent infection on every populated continent!

1983    The delta antigen was described as a distinct hepatitis virus, hepatitis delta virus (HDV). Especially high incidence was found in Venezuela causing severe hepatitis.

1986     Cloning and sequencing of the genome showed that HDV was a unique animal virus. However it showed many similarities to many plant pathogens.

Turin, Italy - Site of discovery

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