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Scientifica (Cairo). 2012;2012:128382. doi: 10.6064/2012/128382. Epub 2012 Jul 8.

Hepatitis C virus, cryoglobulinemia, and kidney: novel evidence.

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  • Division of Nephrology and Dialysis, Maggiore Hospital and IRCCS Foundation, Pad. Croff, Via Commenda 15, 20122 Milano, Italy.


Hepatitis C virus infection can lead to chronic active hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure; however, it is also associated with a wide range of extra-hepatic complications. HCV is associated with a large spectrum of histopathological lesions in both native and transplanted kidneys, and it is increasingly recognized as an instigator of B cell lympho-proliferative disorders including mixed cryoglobulinemia. Mixed cyoglobulinemia is a systemic vasculitis primarily mediated by immune complexes; it is characterized by variable organ involvement including skin lesions, chronic hepatitis, glomerulonephritis, peripheral neuropathy, and arthralgias. The most frequent HCV-associated nephropathy is type I membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, usually in the context of type II mixed cryoglobulinemia. Various approaches have been tried for the treatment of HCV-related glomerulonephritis, including immunosuppressive therapy (corticosteroids and cytotoxic agents), plasma exchange and antiviral agents. Data on the antiviral treatment of HCV-associated glomerulonephritis are not abundant but encouraging results have been provided. Immunosuppressive therapy is particularly recommended for cryoglobulinemic kidney disease. Recent evidence has been accumulated on rituximab therapy for HCV-related cryoglobulinemic glomerulonephritis exists but several questions related to its use remain unclear. Distinct approaches should be considered for the treatment of HCV-associated cryoglobulinemic glomerulonephritis according to the level of proteinuria and kidney failure.

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