Hepatitis C virus risk: a hepatitis C virus related syndrome


Dr Gabriele Pozzato, Istituto di Medicina Clinica, Ospedale di Cattinara, Strada di Fiume 447, 34100 Trieste, Italy (fax: 0039 040 912881; e-mail: pozzato@fmc.univ.trieste.it).


Abstract. Mazzaro C, Panarello G, Tesio F, Santini G, Crovatto M, Mazzi G, Zorat F, Tulissi P, Pussini E, Baracetti S, Campanacci L, Pozzato G (Pordenone General Hospital, Pordenone; University of Trieste, School of Medicine, Trieste, Italy). Hepatitis C virus risk: a hepatitis C virus-related syndrome. J Intern Med 2000 247: 535–545.

Background. The association between mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been recently described in many reports.

Objective. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term prognosis of hepatitis C virus-positive patients affected by mixed cryoglobulinemia with or without kidney involvement.

Patients. At total of 119 hepatitis C virus-positive patients affected by mixed cryoglobulinemia were divided in two groups. Group A: mixed cryoglobulinemia without kidney involvement (103 cases); group B: mixed cryoglobulinemia with glomerulonephritis (GN) (16 cases). A further 37 patients affected by mesangio-proliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) were evaluated as controls (group C).

Methods. Anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies were determined by commercial kits and hepatitis C virus-RNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the 5′ untranslated region (5′UTR) of the virus. The hepatitis C virus genotype was determined according to Okamoto. Liver biopsy was performed in 62 patients, bone marrow biopsy in 65 patients, and kidney biopsy in all patients with proteinuria.

Results. In group A, 46 patients (45%) were affected by chronic liver disease (CLD), 21 (20%) by low-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and 16 (15%) by both diseases. All patients of group B were affected by type I membrano-proliferative glomerulonephritis, 3 (19%) by chronic liver disease, 6 (37%) by low-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and 7 (44%) by both diseases. Several genotypes of hepatitis C virus were found, but Type 1b was prevalent. In group C, no patient showed chronic liver disease or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Younger age, higher mean blood pressure, lower C4 serum level, and poorer survival significantly distinguished group B from group A. Survival rates at 5 years were: 87.4% for group A, 89.5% for group C, and 50.0% for group B. None of the patients of group B developed kidney failure requiring dialysis, whilst infections were the leading cause of death.

Conclusions. In hepatitis C virus-positive patients, the presence of mixed cryoglobulinemia associated with kidney involvement seems to indicate a new syndrome characterized by immune system impairment, lack of progression to kidney failure, and poor survival (hepatitis C virus-Risk syndrome).