Published online Apr 20, 2012. doi: 10.5493/wjem.v2.i2.7
Revised: April 16, 2012
Accepted: April 18, 2012
Published online: April 20, 2012
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a significant health problem facing the world. This virus infects more than 170 million people worldwide and is considered the major cause of both acute and chronic hepatitis. Persons become infected mainly through parenteral exposure to infected material by blood transfusions or injections with nonsterile needles. Although the sexual behavior is considered as a high risk factor for HCV infection, the transmission of HCV infection through sexual means, is less frequently. Currently, the available treatment for patients with chronic HCV infection is interferon based therapies alone or in combination with ribavirin and protease inhibitors. Although a sustained virological response of patients to the applied therapy, a great portion of patients did not show any response. HCV infection is mostly associated with progressive liver diseases including fibrosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although the focus of many patients and clinicians is sometimes limited to that problem, the natural history of HCV infection (HCV) is also associated with the development of several extrahepatic manifestations including dermatologic, rheumatologic, neurologic, and nephrologic complications, diabetes, arterial hypertension, autoantibodies and cryglobulins. Despite the notion that HCV-mediated extrahepatic manifestations are credible, the mechanism of their modulation is not fully described in detail. Therefore, the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of HCV-induced alteration of intracellular signal transduction pathways, during the course of HCV infection, may offer novel therapeutic targets for HCV-associated both hepatic and extrahepatic manifestations. This review will elaborate the etiopathogenesis of HCV-host interactions and summarize the current knowledge of HCV-associated diseases and their possible therapeutic strategies.