Published online Dec 21, 2013. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i47.8916
Revised: October 23, 2013
Accepted: November 12, 2013
Published online: December 21, 2013
A higher prevalence of immunological processes has recently been reported in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, focusing the attention of physicians and researchers on the close association between HCV and immune disorders. HCV lymphotropism represents the most important step in the pathogenesis of virus-related immunological diseases and experimental, virologic, and clinical evidence has demonstrated a trigger role for HCV both in systemic autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren syndrome, hemolytic anemia and severe thrombocytopenia, and in organ-specific autoimmune diseases, such as autoimmune hepatitis, thyroid disorders and diabetes. This review will outline the principal aspects of such HCV-induced immunological alterations, focusing on the prevalence of these less characterized HCV extrahepatic manifestations.
Core tip: Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected lymphoid tissue of the host represents a site for the persistence of HCV infection which exerts a chronic stimulus to the immune system, facilitating clonal B-lymphocyte expansion and consequent wide autoantibody production, including cryo- and non-cryo-precipitable immune complexes which may lead to organ- and non-organ-specific immunological alterations. This review outlines the principal aspects of such HCV-induced immunological alterations, focusing on the prevalence of these less characterized HCV extrahepatic manifestations.