Clinical significance of hepatitis C virus infection to alcoholics with cirrhosis in Korea.J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2000 Nov; 15(11):1282-6.JG
To investigate the prevalence and clinical significance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and its relationship with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), 162 consecutive alcoholic patients with cirrhosis were studied. Alcohol intake and parenteral risk factors were investigated by interview using a questionnaire. All patients had consumed at least 80 g alcohol/day for at least the past 5 years. Sera were tested for anti-HCV using a third-generation enzyme immunoassay (EIA), hepatitis B s antigen (HBsAg), anti-HBs, anti-HBc and anti-HIV. Serum HCV-RNA was detected by a one-tube reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method. Patients were classified into three groups accroding to the presence or absence of viral markers: (i) cases without anti-HCV or HBsAg (group A); (ii) cases with HBsAg only (group B); and (iii) cases with anti-HCV only (group C). Demographic and clinical findings were compared among the three groups.
Anti-HCV was present in 17 cases (10.5%) and HBsAg was present in 47 cases (29%). No patient had both anti-HCV and HBsAg. Group C subjects were the oldest, but the duration of drinking in this group was similar to that of group A. There was no significant difference in the daily alcohol intake among the three groups. Previous surgical operations and tattooing were more frequent in group C. Only one patient in group C was an intravenous drug user. The combined rate of HCC was significantly higher in groups B and C than in groups A (34, 23.5 and 6.1%, respectively). Laboratory data showed a higher platelet count, higher albumin level, lower bilirubin level and lower aspartate aminotransferase/alanine aminotransferase ratio in group C patients than in the other two groups. Hepatitis C virus RNA was detected in 14 of 85 cases tested (16.5%), in 11 of 12 cases (91.7%) with anti-HCV and in three of 73 cases (4.1%) without anti-HCV.
Hepatitis C virus infection is frequent in alcoholic patients with cirrhosis in Korea. Hepatitis C virus, as well as hepatitis B virus, infection may have a synergistic effect on the development of HCC in alcoholic patients.