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Ren Fail. 2009;31(5):349-54.

Effect of hepatitis C virus on hemoglobin and hematocrit levels in saudi hemodialysis patients.

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Prince Salman Center for Kidney Disease, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.



Hepatitis C virus infection is common among patients undergoing hemodialysis, and HD patients are at high risk for infection with such virus. Recently, some studies and case reports indicated attenuated anemia in HD patients with HCV infection, and they previously considered this to be related to increased erythropoietin production after hepatic stimulation by chronic infection with hepatitis virus.


The aim of our study is to investigate whether HCV-positive HD patients have higher hemoglobin (Hb) and hematocrit (HCT) values compared to HCV-negative patients.


We retrospectively studied 83 chronic HD patients from Prince Salman Center for Kidney Disease, and monthly samples were collected between July 2007 and July 2008. The HCV status was determined by anti-HCV antibodies and confirmed with RNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Those with a history of blood transfusion or massive blood loss during the last six months were excluded from the study.


Thirty-three percent of our patients tested positive for anti-HCV antibody (51.8% were male). The mean age for HCV-positive group was 54.92 +/- 15.61 years, while it was 51.01 +/- 14.81 years for the HCV-negative group (p = 0.27). Mean Hb in the HCV-positive group was 11.18 +/- 1.41 gm/dL compared to 10.87 +/- 1.29 gm/dL for the HCV-negative group (p = 0.05). Mean HTC values for the HCV-positive group was 34.4 +/- 3.9, compared to 32.41 +/- 3.41 for the HCV-negative group 12 months after starting hemodialysis. Eighty-one patients (27 HCV-positive and 54 HCV-negative) received erythropoietin (EPO) therapy. Seventy-two patients (25 HCV-positive and 47 HCV-negative) received IV iron (p = 0.28). Mean erythropoietin dose was (114.83 +/- 84.92 IU/kg/week) for HCV-positive compared to (122.2 +/- 91.46 IU/kg/week) for HCV-negative group (p = 0.74). Liver function tests were normal except for higher bilirubin level in the HCV-positive group, 7.74 +/- 4.03 Umol/L compared to 5.47 +/- 3.71 Umol/L in the HCV-negative group (p = 0.01).


Our study showed that ESRD patients on HD with HCV infection have higher Hb and HCT levels compared with HCV-negative patients.

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