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Oral diseases associated with hepatitis C virus infection. Part 2: lichen planus and other diseases


Prof. M Carrozzo, Department of Oral Medicine, School of Dental Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4BW, UK.


Some of the most frequent extrahepatic manifestations of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection involve the oral region predominantly or exclusively. Part 2 of this review discusses the current evidences regarding the association of lichen planus (LP) and other diseases frequently involving the oral cavity with HCV. Epidemiological data suggest that LP may be significantly associated with HCV infections especially in southern Europe and Japan but not in northern Europe. These geographical differences are possibly influenced by immunogenetic factors, the duration of the HCV infection and the design of the published studies. Because of the fact that most of the studies published are retrospective, it is impossible to establish whether the HCV exposure occurred earlier to or after the onset of disease and more prospective studies are clearly warranted. As the virus may replicate in the skin and oral mucosa and HCV-specific T lymphocytes can be found in the oral mucosa of patients with chronic hepatitis C and LP, HCV may be implicated in the pathogenesis of LP. However, little attention has been paid to the variable effect of therapy with interferon-alpha (IFN-α), with or without ribavirin for LP. Conversely, it is unlikely that other oral diseases such as oral carcinoma, pemphigus and Behcet disease are triggered by HCV.