Objectives This study aimed to determine the prevalence of anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies and HCV genotypes/subtypes among patients with lichen planus (LP) in Saudi Arabia.
Methods Fifty patients with LP and 50 healthy blood donors were recruited from dermatology outpatient clinics, and blood samples along with demographic and clinical data were collected. Sera were analyzed for aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), albumin, bilirubin, hepatitis B virus surface antigen, anti-HCV antibodies, and HCV-RNA. Patients with anti-HCV-positive LP were genotyped and subtyped.
Results Clinical examination revealed that 26 (55.3%) of our patients had cutaneous LP, and 10 (21.30%) presented with oral LP. Eleven (23.4%) patients with LP had cutaneous as well as oral infection. Twenty-eight (59.6%) of our patients with LP were exposed to a variety of HCV risk factors, including history of intramuscular injections (nine of 47; 19%), blood transfusion (seven of 47; 15%), and exposure to family member with HCV infection (five of 47; 10.6%). Of the 47 patients with LP, six (12.76%) tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies, with two of six (33.33%) being HCV-RNA positive showing HCV genotypes 1b and 4a, respectively. Mean ± SD serum levels of ALT and AST among patients with anti-HCV-positive LP (n = 6) were slightly higher as compared with patients with anti-HCV-negative LP. None of the 50 healthy blood donors tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies, and their liver function test profiles were within normal reference range.
Conclusion Our findings are in agreement with earlier reports that HCV infection is associated with LP and recommend the screening of patients with LP for ALT, AST, and anti-HCV antibodies for early diagnosis of HCV infection.