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Improvement of thrombocytopenia with disappearance of HCV RNA in patients treated by interferon-α therapy: possible etiology of HCV-associated immune thrombocytopenia


O. Yamada MD, Department of Hematology and Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Women's Medical University, 8-1 Kawadacho, Shinjuku-ku 162-8666, Tokyo, Japan
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Abstract:  We evaluated the relationship between the severity of thrombocytopenia and the serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA level to investigate the mechanism of thrombocytopenia in patients with HCV infection. Patients who had chronic hepatitis without splenomegaly were divided into two groups according to the platelet count, which were 18 patients with a platelet count ≤150 × 109/L and 22 patients with a platelet count >150 × 109/L. HCV RNA, platelet-associated immunoglobulin G (PAIgG), rheumatoid factor (RF), and other immunological parameters were measured and correlations were investigated. Patients in the low platelet group had higher levels of PAIgG, Th1 cells, thrombopoietin (TPO), and RF than those in the normal platelet group (textitP < 0.05). Twenty-two patients completed 6 months of IFN therapy and were followed for more than 1 yr afterwards. Twelve patients who responded to IFN therapy with clearance of HCV showed an increase of the platelet count, whereas the 10 patients who did not respond to IFN showed a decrease of the platelet count. The improvement of thrombocytopenia after interferon therapy suggests a contribution of HCV infection to this condition.

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