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Ann Hepatol. 2008 Apr-Jun;7(2):136-43.

Influence of extrahepatic viral infection on the natural history of hepatitis C.

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Laboratorio de Virología Molecular, Centro de Investigaciones Médicas.


HCV is primarily hepatotropic, but there is mounting evidence pointing to infection and replication of extrahepatic sites. Here we evaluated the occurrence of HCV infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and explored the possible association between viral extrahepatic infection and the natural history of the disease. Forty seven Chilean, HCV infected, treatment naïve patients were included in the study. HCV RNA was isolated from plasma and PBMC and subsequently reverse transcribed, amplified and sequenced. Most patients harbored HCV 1b genotype and the most common route of infection showed to be blood transfusion. HCV RNA was readily detected in PBMCs of 34 out of the 47 patients (72%). We report that HCV sequences found in PBMC differ from those in plasma of the same subjects strongly suggesting HCV compartmentalization. In addition, we found that patients with detectable HCV RNA in PBMC had a tendency for being more likely cirrhotic [OR 3.8 (95% CI: 0.98 to 14)]. In conclusion, this study provides further arguments for the existence of HCV infection of extrahepatic sites and suggests that extrahepatic infection could be a factor influencing the natural history of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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