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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: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a serious public health problem because of its worldwide diffusion and sequelae. It is not only a hepatotropic but also a lymphotropic agent and is responsible not only for liver injury--potentially evolving to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma--but also for a series of sometimes severely disabling extrahepatic diseases and, in particular, B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders. These latter range from benign, but prelymphomatous conditions, like mixed cryoglobulinemia, to frank lymphomas. Analogously with Helicobacter pylori related lymphomagenesis, the study of the effects of viral eradication confirmed the etiopathogenetic role of HCV and showed it is an ideal model for better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved. Concerning these latter, several hypotheses have been proposed over the past two decades which are not mutually exclusive. These hypotheses have variously emphasized the important role played by sustained stimulation of the immune system by HCV, infection of the lymphatic cells, viral proteins, chromosomal aberrations, cytokines, or microRNA molecules. In this paper we describe the main hypotheses that have been proposed with the corresponding principal supporting data.
    Clinical and Developmental Immunology 01/2012; 2012:980942. · 3.06 Impact Factor

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