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Gastroenterol Clin Biol. 1998 Nov;22(11):891-6.

[Peripheral neuropathies and chronic hepatitis C: a frequent association?].

[Article in French]

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Service d'Hépato-Gastroentérologie et d'Assistance Nutritive, Hôpital Dupuytren, Limoges.



The aim of this prospective study was to evaluate the prevalence of the peripheral neuropathies associated with chronic hepatitis C and their clinical, electrophysiological and histological characteristics.


Thirty six patients admitted from December 1994 to January 1996 for chronic hepatitis C were prospectively investigated. Laboratory data included liver blood tests, serum cryoprecipitate immunoelectrophoresis, assays for anti-nuclear antibody, rheumatoid factor, circulating immune complexes, anti-SSA and anti-SSB antibodies. For each patient, a clinical neurological evaluation as well as an electrophysiological evaluation were performed by the same operator. In presence of peripheral neuropathy, a neuromuscular biopsy was performed.


In seven patients (19%), a peripheral neuropathy was diagnosed related to hepatitis C virus in 3 patients. In these 3 patients presenting with leg paresthesia, an axonal sensitive neuropathy was evidenced by electromyography. A neuromuscular biopsy performed in two of these patients showed a severe diminution of the myelinated fibers associated with vasculitis lesions in one patient. A skin biopsy was performed in the third patient with leg purpura revealing a leukocytoclasic vasculitis. A positive cryoglobulinemia was found in two of these patients.


In chronic hepatitis C, the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy is 8% and usually associated with cryoglobulinemia. It is an axonal neuropathy with diminution of the myelinated fibers and vasculitis lesions in the absence of cryoglobulinemia.

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