Hepatitis C virus and GBV-C virus prevalence among patients with B-cell lymphoma in different European regions: a case-control study of the International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group


Emanuele Zucca, PD Dr MD IOSI/ Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland IELSG/International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group, Ospedale San Giovanni, 6500 Bellinzona, Switzerland.

E-mail: emanuele.zucca@eoc.ch


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with some B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B cell-NHLs). Patients with HCV infection frequently show co-infections with GB virus C (GBV-C, formerly known as hepatitis G virus), and some studies have suggested a higher incidence of GBV-C infection in patients with B cell-NHLs. The aim of this study was to prospectively evaluate the association between HCV and/or GBV-C infection and B cell-NHLs in different geographic areas. One hundred thirty-seven lymphoma cases and 125 non-lymphoma matched controls were enrolled in an international case-control study conducted in Switzerland (Bellinzona), Spain (Barcelona) and England (Southampton) on samples collected from 2001 to 2002. In Bellinzona (41 cases and 81 controls), the overall prevalence of HCV was 3.3% (4.9% in NHLs), and the overall prevalence of GBV-C was 24% (22% in NHLs). In Barcelona (46 cases and 44 controls), the prevalence of HCV was 10% (8.7% in NHLs) and the prevalence of GBV-C 20% (13% in NHLs). There was no statistically significant difference in the frequency of both infections between patients with NHL and controls. In Southampton, 50 NHL cases were analysed, none of them was found to be HCV-positive; therefore, no control group was analysed and GBV-C analysis was not performed, too. Both in Bellinzona and in Barcelona, the seropositivity rate was significantly lower for HCV than for GBV-C, suggesting that their transmission can be independent. The incidence of HCV was significantly higher in Barcelona than that in Bellinzona. This study confirmed the existence of marked geographic differences in the prevalence of HCV in NHL but cannot provide any significant evidence for an association between HCV and/or GBV-C and B-cell NHLs. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.