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Medicine (Baltimore). 2000 Jan;79(1):47-56.

Extrahepatic manifestations associated with hepatitis C virus infection. A prospective multicenter study of 321 patients. The GERMIVIC. Groupe d'Etude et de Recherche en Medecine Interne et Maladies Infectieuses sur le Virus de l'Hepatite C.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hopital La Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


From January 1996 to January 1997, 321 patients with an average age of 46 +/- 16 years and chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) were prospectively enrolled in a study designed to determine the prevalence of extrahepatic manifestations associated with HCV infection in a large cohort of HCV patients, to identify associations between clinical and biologic manifestations, and to compare the results obtained in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive versus HIV-negative subsets. In a cross-sectional study, clinical extrahepatic manifestations, viral coinfections with HIV and/or hepatitis B virus, connective tissue diseases, and a wide panel of autoantibodies were assessed. Thirty-eight percent (122/321) of patients presented at least 1 clinical extrahepatic manifestation including arthralgia (60/321, 19%), skin manifestations (55/321, 17%), xerostomia (40/321, 12%), xerophthalmia (32/321, 10%), and sensory neuropathy (28/321, 9%). Main biologic abnormalities were mixed cryoglobulins (110/196, 56%), thrombocytopenia (50/291, 17%), and the presence of the following autoantibodies: antinuclear (123/302, 41%), rheumatoid factor (107/280, 38%), anticardiolipin (79/298, 27%), antithyroglobulin (36/287, 13%) and antismooth muscle cell (27/288, 9%). At least 1 autoantibody was present in 210/302 (70%) of sera. By multivariate logistic regression analysis, 4 parameters were significantly associated with cryoglobulin positivity: systemic vasculitis (p = 0.01, odds ratio OR[ = 17.3), HIV positivity (p = 0.0006, OR = 10.2), rheumatoid factor positivity (p = 0.01, OR = 2.8), and sicca syndrome (p = 0.03, OR = 0.27). A definite connective tissue disease was noted in 44 patients (14%), mainly symptomatic mixed cryoglobulinemia and systemic vasculitis, HIV coinfection (23%) was associated with 3 parameters: anticardiolipin (p = 0.003, OR = 4.18), thrombocytopenia (p = 0.01, OR = 3.56), and arthralgia or myalgia (p = 0.017, OR = 0.23). HIV-positive patients presented more severe histologic lesions (p = 0.0004). Extrahepatic clinical manifestations in HCV patients involve primarily the skin and joints. The most frequent immunologic abnormalities include mixed cryoglobulins, rheumatoid factor, antinuclear, anticardiolipin, and antithyroglobulin antibodies. Cryoglobulin positivity is associated with systemic vasculitis and rheumatoid factor and HIV positivity. HIV coinfection is associated with arthralgia or myalgia, anticardiolipin antibodies, and thrombocytopenia.

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