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Int J Endocrinol. 2014;2014:935131. doi: 10.1155/2014/935131. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

Autoimmune and neoplastic thyroid diseases associated with hepatitis C chronic infection.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Via Savi 10, 56126 Pisa, Italy.
Department of Medical, Surgical, Maternal, Pediatric and Adult Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via del Pozzo 71, 41100 Modena, Italy.


Frequently, patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronic infection have high levels of serum anti-thyroperoxidase and/or anti-thyroglobulin autoantibodies, ultrasonographic signs of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, and subclinical hypothyroidism, in female gender versus healthy controls, or hepatitis B virus infected patients. In patients with "HCV-associated mixed cryoglobulinemia" (MC + HCV), a higher prevalence of thyroid autoimmune disorders was shown not only compared to controls, but also versus HCV patients without cryoglobulinemia. Patients with MC + HCV or HCV chronic infection show a higher prevalence of papillary thyroid cancer than controls, in particular in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Patients with HCV chronic infection, or with MC + HCV, in presence of autoimmune thyroiditis, show higher serum levels of T-helper (Th)1 (C-X-C motif) ligand 10 (CXCL10) chemokine, but normal levels of Th2 (C-C motif) ligand 2 chemokine, than patients without thyroiditis. HCV thyroid infection could act by upregulating CXCL10 gene expression and secretion in thyrocytes recruiting Th1 lymphocytes that secrete interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α. These cytokines might induce a further CXCL10 secretion by thyrocytes, thus perpetuating the immune cascade, which may lead to the appearance of autoimmune thyroid disorders in genetically predisposed subjects. A careful monitoring of thyroid function, particularly where nodules occur, is recommended in HCV patients.

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