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Ann Oncol. 1993 Mar;4(3):229-34.

Late seroconversion and high chronicity rate of hepatitis C virus infection in patients with hematologic disorders.

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Division of Medicine, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.



Patients with hematologic disorders requiring repeated blood and platelet transfusions are at high risk for development of post-transfusion non-A, non-B hepatitis.


Fifty-five patients with hematologic diseases and post-transfusion non-A, non-B hepatitis were studied. Sera were assayed for hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies with a second-generation enzyme-linked immunoassay. Sera from 40 patients were examined for the presence of HCV RNA with a nested PCR method.


The clinical picture of acute non-A, non-B hepatitis did not differ from that described in other patient groups: however, progression to chronic hepatitis was very common (95%). Thirty-eight (95%) of 40 patients, whose sera were analysed both serologically and for the presence of HCV RNA had verified HCV infections. In some patients time to seroconversion was prolonged, up to more than 14 months. Seventeen patients with resistant or relapsed acute leukemia were treated with combination chemotherapy during the acute or chronic phase of hepatitis. Suppression of the inflammatory activity as reflected by a decrease of serum aminotransferase levels was recorded during the subsequent pancytopenic period.


Hepatitis C has a high chronicity rate in patients with hematologic disorders which parallels the situation of hepatitis B in the immunocompromised host. Furthermore, like the situation in hepatitis B, the hosts' immune response to infection seems to be involved in the pathogenesis of liver injury. Time to seroconversion may be prolonged and detection of HCV RNA is therefore important for diagnosis.

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