Serum autoantibodies positivity prevalence in patients with chronic HCV and impact on pegylated interferon and ribavirin treatment response



Marwa Khairy, MD, Endemic Medicine Department and Hepatology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, 15 street 305 New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt

Tel.: +20 25183031

Fax: +20 25326439



Background & Aims

Prevalence of serum autoantibodies in chronic hepatitis C (HCV) patients is higher than that in the general population. Interferon may induce autoimmune manifestations in patients treated with peg-interferon and ribavirin. Effect of autoantibody seropositivity and treatment response are limited and controversial.

To detect the prevalence of serum autoantibodies in patients with chronic HCV and impact on histopathology and treatment response.


Retrospective study including 3673 Egyptian chronic HCV naïve patients enrolled in the Egyptian national programme for HCV treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin in the years 2007–2010. Antinuclear antibody (ANA) was determined by ELISA considered positive with a titre ≥1:40 by indirect immunofluorescence. ANA-positive patients pre treatment workup including serum aminotransferases, thyroid profile and liver biopsy, follow-up during treatment and sustained virological response (SVR) were assessed compared to ANA-negative patients.


Serum ANA was positive in 1.6% of the studied patients. There were no statistically significant differences concerning the demographic, biochemical and histopathological data in ANA positive and negative patients. SVR was comparable between ANA-positive and ANA-negative patients (67.8% and 61.3% respectively). Follow-up treatment; ANA-positive patients' did not experience statistically significant haematological complications, flare-up of serum transaminases, thyroid dysfunction. No systemic autoimmune disorders developed during follow-up.


ANA positivity is not a factor in chronic HCV disease progression and does not affect the treatment response. Pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy is safe and effective in autoantibodies-positive chronic HCV patients with no need for further follow-up or worry during the treatment in absence of systemic autoimmune disorders.