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Intervirology. 2015;58(2):73-9. doi: 10.1159/000370070. Epub 2015 Feb 13.

The correlation between hepatitis C core antigen and hepatitis C virus RNA levels with respect to human immunodeficiency virus status, hepatitis C virus genotype and interferon-lambda-4 polymorphism.

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Center of Excellence in Clinical Virology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.



Serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) core antigen (HCVcAg) concentrations correlate with HCV RNA levels in HCV monoinfected patients. Data in HCV/HIV coinfected patients are still limited. We aim to compare the use of HCVcAg measurement with respect to HIV status, HCV genotypes, interferon-lambda-4 (IFNL4) polymorphism and clinical parameters.


We analyzed an untreated cohort of 104 patients with HCV monoinfection and 85 patients with HCV/HIV coinfection. Serum HCVcAg was measured by a commercial chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay. The presence of IFNL4 polymorphism ss469415590 was identified by real-time PCR.


log10 HCVcAg levels were significantly correlated with corresponding log10 HCV RNA levels (r = 0.889, p < 0.001), but not with ALT levels and liver stiffness. The correlation between HCV RNA and HCVcAg was particularly high in coinfected patients and those with high viremia. Mean log10 HCVcAg concentration was significantly higher in coinfected patients than in monoinfected patients. Patients harboring the TT/TT genotype of ss469415590 had significantly higher levels of log10 HCVcAg than those with the non-TT/TT genotype. HCVcAg levels were similar across HCV genotypes.


HCVcAg concentrations had an excellent correlation with HCV RNA levels, particularly in HCV/HIV-coinfected individuals and might be associated with IFNL4 polymorphism. HCVcAg testing could be used as an alternative to HCV RNA assays in resource-limited settings.

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