Author(s): Ghany MG, Chan TM, SanchezPescador R, Urdea M, Lok AS
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Abstract Cross-sectional studies on the correlation between serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in patients with chronic hepatitis C have yielded conflicting results. We conducted a longitudinal study to examine the correlation between HCV viremia and serum ALT levels in individual patients over time. Serial samples (mean 9) from 25 patients with chronic HCV infection, including interferon-treated and untreated immunocompetent and immunosuppressed patients, collected over a period of 1-4.8 years (mean 2.6 years) were tested for HCV RNA and ALT levels using a highly reproducible quantitative (bDNA) assay. A significant correlation was found between serum HCV RNA and ALT levels in the patients who received IFN therapy, but no correlation was observed in the untreated patients. Among the untreated patients, the immunosuppressed patients had significantly higher HCV RNA levels (39 +/- 4 vs 3.6 +/- 8 Meq/ml, P < 0.0001) but significantly lower ALT (56 +/- 11 vs 97 +/- 12 units/liter, P = 0.03) levels when compared to the immunocompetent ones. In summary, we found no correlation between serum HCV RNA and ALT levels in chronic hepatitis C patients who are not receiving interferon therapy. Immunosuppression results in higher HCV RNA but lower ALT levels.
This article was published in Dig Dis Sci
and referenced in Journal of Hepatology and Gastrointestinal disorders