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N Engl J Med. 1992 Nov 19;327(21):1490-5.

A role for hepatitis C virus infection in type II cryoglobulinemia.

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1
Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Type II cryoglobulinemia is a vasculitis characterized by cryoglobulins consisting of complexes of polyclonal IgG and monoclonal IgM rheumatoid factors. The cause of these immune complexes is unknown, though both the hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) viruses have been suspected.

METHODS:

We studied 19 patients with Type II cryoglobulinemia for markers of HCV and HBV infection. Quantitative HCV antibody and RNA studies were performed on whole serum, cryoprecipitates, and supernatants.

RESULTS:

Eight patients (42 percent) had HCV antibodies, and 16 (84 percent) had HCV RNA: Of the 19 patients, 5 (26 percent) had HBV markers, but only 1 had evidence of active HBV infection. Control serum samples from nine patients with Type I cryoglobulinemia were negative for HCV antibody and HCV RNA: There was a close, although not exclusive, association of one type of rheumatoid factor (WA) with HCV RNA: HCV antibody and HCV RNA were concentrated approximately 10-fold and 1000-fold, respectively, in the Type II cryoglobulins examined.

CONCLUSIONS:

Type II cryoglobulinemia is strongly associated with concomitant HCV infection and a high rate of false negative serologic tests. HCV virions and HCV antigen-antibody complexes are concentrated in the cryoprecipitates, most commonly in association with the WA type of rheumatoid factor, suggesting a role for HCV in the pathogenesis of mixed cryoglobulinemia.

PMID:
1383822
DOI:
10.1056/NEJM199211193272104
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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