Published online May 7, 2007. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v13.i17.2467
Revised: March 8, 2007
Accepted: March 12, 2007
Published online: May 7, 2007
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a global health problem affecting 3% of the world's population (about 180 million) and a cause of both hepatic and extrahepatic diseases. B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders, whose prototype is mixed cryoglobulinemia, represent the most closely related as well as the most investigated HCV-related extrahepatic disorder. The association between extrahepatic (lymphoma) as well as hepatic malignancies (hepatocellular carcinoma) has justified the inclusion of HCV among human cancer viruses. HCV-associated manifestations also include porphyria cutanea tarda, lichen planus, nephropathies, thyreopathies, sicca syndrome, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, diabetes, chronic polyarthritis, sexual dysfunctions, cardiopathy/atherosclerosis, and psychopathological disorders. A pathogenetic link between HCV virus and some lymphoproliferative disorders was confirmed by their responsiveness to antiviral therapy, which is now considered the first choice treatment. The aim of the present paper is to provide an overview of extrahepatic manifestations of HCV infection with particular attention to B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders. Available pathogenetic hypotheses and suggestions about the most appropriate, currently available, therapeutic approaches will also be discussed.