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Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2003 Feb;5(1):86-92.

Pathogenic interactions between alcohol and hepatitis C.

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  • 1Hepatology and Liver Center, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 365 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States, and alcohol abuse leads to alcoholic liver disease, a long recognized major public health concern. The high prevalence of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, along with the clinical observation that HCV infection is common in alcoholic patients presenting with liver disease, has directed attention to the interaction between alcohol and HCV infection. Clinical studies have identified alcohol use as an independent risk factor for progression of fibrosis in chronic HCV infection. Experimental evidence suggests additive inhibitory effects between HCV and alcohol on antiviral immune responses. In addition, specific pathways have been identified by which HCV core protein and alcohol interact to activate hepatocytes. Nonspecific inflammatory cell recruitment and proinflammatory cytokine activation have also been implicated in both alcohol- and HCV-induced liver diseases. Further investigation of these and other pathways by which alcohol and HCV interact should unravel the mechanisms that accelerate the progression of liver disease.

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