Hepatitis C virus serotypes and liver pathology


Istituto di Anatomia Patologica, Università degli Studi di Padova, Via Gabelli, 61, 1–35121 Padova, Italy


Abstract: The present study aimed to analyze the pathology of chronic hepatitis C in relation to HCV serotype, and to speculate on possible differences in the pathogenesis of liver injury. Liver biopsies were investigated from 59 consecutive patients in whom hepatitis C virus genotypes were determined by a serological genotyping assay that detects antibodies directed to epitopes encoded by the NS4 region. A morphological study was performed in each case, semiquantitatively scoring necro-inflammatory and fibrotic liver lesions. The prevalence of HCV serotypes was as follows: 26 of the 59 patients (44%) had type 1 infection, 11 (19%) had type 2 and 20 (35%) had type 3. A significant association between intravenous drug abuse and serotype 3 infection was observed. Patients with HCV type 2 proved significantly older than patients with infection types 1 or 3, and more frequently they showed a more active liver disease, but no differences were found in the quality and acinar topographic distribution of all the morphological lesions scored. In conclusion, in chronic hepatitis C a more active liver disease can be related to HCV serotype 2 but the spectrum of liver lesions is independent of HCV types. From a morphological point of view, a different pathogenesis of liver injury related to different HCV types is unlikely.