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    ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a major health problem, infecting about 3 % of people worldwide and leading to liver as well as extrahepatic diseases. This justifies the definition of HCV infection as a systemic disease. Based on available data, the link between the virus and some of these extrahepatic disorders is certain, whereas for some others needs further confirmation. HCV-related lymphoproliferative disorders, ranging from benign, but pre-lymphomatous conditions, like mixed cryoglobulinemia, to frank lymphomas, represent the extrahepatic manifestations most closely related to HCV. The primary involvement of the liver and lymphatic system corresponds to the double viral tropism, being HCV able to infect both hepatic and lymphatic cells. Other HCV-associated disorders include renal, endocrine, dermatological, cardiovascular, rheumatologic and central nervous system diseases. On the whole, the HCV disease appears a very important, mainly hidden, public health problem leading to heavy direct and indirect costs. The possibility that HCV may be eradicated following antiviral therapy is important for both the therapeutic and preventive points of view, making the HCV disease an ideal model for pathogenetic studies.
    Internal and Emergency Medicine 10/2012; 7 Suppl 3:201-8. · 2.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The relationship between Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection and immunosuppression is complex and multifaceted. Although HCV-related hepatocytolysis is classically interpreted as secondary to the attack by cytotoxic T lymphocytes against infected cells, the liver disease is usually exacerbated and more rapidly evolutive in immunosuppressed patients. This generally occurs during the immunosuppression state, and not at the reconstitution of the host response after immunosuppressive therapy discontinuation. The field of immunosuppression and HCV infection is complicated both by the different outcome observed in different situations and/or by contrasting data obtained in the same conditions, with several still unanswered questions, such as the opportunity to modify treatment schedules in the setting of post-transplant follow-up. The complexity of this field is further complicated by the intrinsic tendency of HCV infection in itself to lead to disorders of the immune system. This review will briefly outline the current knowledge about the pathogenesis of both hepatic and extrahepatic HCV-related disorders and the principal available data concerning HCV infection in a condition of impairment of the immune system. Attention will be especially focused on some conditions - liver or kidney transplantation, the use of biologic drugs and cancer chemotherapy - for which more abundant and interesting data exist.
    Journal of Translational Medicine 08/2012; 10:158. · 3.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Mixed cryoglobulinaemia is strongly related to hepatitis C virus infection. Treatment with peg-interferon and ribavirin has been indicated as first-line therapy for mild/moderate hepatitis C virus-related mixed cryoglobulinaemia. Aim To evaluate the safety and efficacy of triple boceprevir-based antiviral therapy in patients with or without mixed cryoglobulinaemia previously treated with peg-interferon and ribavirin, and with advanced liver disease. Methods Thirty-five hepatitis C virus-positive patients (17 with asymptomatic mixed cryoglobulinaemia, 5 with symptomatic mixed cryoglobulinaemia, and 11 without mixed cryoglobulinaemia) were treated with triple boceprevir-based antiviral therapy. Results In 19/22 cryoglobulinaemic subjects (86%), the addition of boceprevir induced cryocrit disappearance. Cryocrit behaviour was related to virological response, with improvement of symptoms upon undetectable viraemia and reappearance after virological breakthrough. The rate of sustained virological response was lower in cryoglobulinaemic patients than in patients without mixed cryoglobulinaemia (23.8% vs 70% respectively, p = 0.01). Conclusion Boceprevir-based therapy was safe and effective in cryoglobulinaemic patients. The correlation between direct inhibition of hepatitis C virus replication and clinical improvement in mixed cryoglobulinaemic patients is definitive proof of the key pathogenetic role played by viral replication. Further studies are needed to confirm and clarify the reduced virological response in patients with mixed cryoglobulinaemia.
    Digestive and Liver Disease 05/2014; · 3.16 Impact Factor

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