Extrahepatic immunologic manifestations in chronic hepatitis C and hepatitis C virus serotypes.
Pawlotsky JM., Roudot-Thoraval F., Simmonds P., Mellor J., Ben Yahia MB., André C., Voisin MC., Intrator L., Zafrani ES., Duval J., Dhumeaux D.
OBJECTIVE: To determine, using a serotyping assay, whether the occurrence of extrahepatic immunologic disorders in patients with chronic hepatitis C is dependent on hepatitis C virus serotype. DESIGN: Prospective study. SETTING: Liver unit and virology laboratory of a university hospital. PATIENTS: 59 consecutive patients with chronic hepatitis C. MEASUREMENTS: Hepatitis C virus serotype was determined using a recently developed immunoenzymatic assay that detects antibodies directed to serotype-specific immunodominant epitopes. Cryoglobulin, rheumatoid factor, and numerous antitissue antibodies were sought. Biopsies of labial salivary glands were done in 49 of the 59 patients. RESULTS: Prevalence was 59% for serotype 1, 10% for serotype 2, 12% for serotype 3, and 3% for mixed infection. Fifteen percent of patients could not be serotyped. Cryoglobulinemia was found in 36% of patients and rheumatoid factor was found in the serum of 71%. At least one antitissue antibody was found in the serum of 41% of patients; salivary gland biopsy showed lymphocytic capillaritis in 49% of patients. These immunologic abnormalities were seen in patients infected with any of the three serotypes, and prevalences of the abnormalities did not differ significantly among patients infected with different serotypes. CONCLUSIONS: We confirm that the prevalence of extrahepatic immunologic abnormalities is high in patients with chronic hepatitis C. These abnormalities may occur in patients infected with any of the three major hepatitis C virus serotypes now present in developed countries.