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West J Med. 1994 Feb;160(2):133-8.

Evidence for hepatitis C viral infection in patients with primary hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Liver Center, Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena, CA 91105.


In testing for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) in 112 patients with primary hepatocellular carcinoma, 10 of 33 white patients (30%) and 15 of 79 Asian patients (19%) had a positive response to the antibody. The antibody profile to individual hepatitis C viral antigens and the presence of circulating hepatitis C viral RNA were determined in the 25 patients. The anti-HCV antibodies most frequently detected were toward the antigens from the core (C22) and NS3 regions. Serum hepatitis C viral RNA was present in 17 of the 25 patients (68%), and these patients tended to have serum levels of alanine and aspartate aminotransferases higher than those patients without viremia (136 +/- 22 U per liter versus 64 +/- 11 U per liter and 161 +/- 26 U per liter versus 79 +/- 14 U per liter, respectively, both P < .05). Of the 15 Asian patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and anti-HCV, 4 (27%) had coexisting hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and 13 (87%) had antibodies to either hepatitis B core or surface antigen. Of the 10 white patients with anti-HCV, however, only 1 (10%) had hepatitis B virus antibodies (P < .01). Among 4 Asian patients with coexisting anti-HCV and HBsAg, 1 was found to have serum hepatitis B viral DNA and the other 3 had hepatitis C viral RNA. A history of blood transfusion was obtained from 12 of the 25 patients with anti-HCV (48%); 20 (80%) had coexisting cirrhosis. Our findings support the hypothesis that hepatitis C virus is an important etiologic agent in the development of primary hepatocellular carcinoma in both white and Asian patients in the United States.

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