Histology of Symptomatic Acute Hepatitis C Infection in Immunocompetent Adults

Department of Pathology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA.
American Journal of Surgical Pathology (Impact Factor: 5.15). 12/2007; 31(11):1754-8. DOI: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e318093f90e
Source: PubMed


Acute hepatitis C in immunocompetent individuals is rarely symptomatic and rarely biopsied. Thus, the histologic descriptions of acute hepatitis C remain limited. The histology of 5 cases of acute hepatitis C in adults were studied by selecting cases from the consult and surgical pathology files of a single institution. The 5 individuals, 3 males and 2 females, had an average age at biopsy of 50+/-17 years. They presented with jaundice and other nonspecific abdominal symptoms. The time interval from clinical presentation to biopsy ranged from 2 to 18 weeks. The average alanine aminotransferase/aspartate aminotransferase/alkaline phosphatase at the time of biopsy was 308/73/85 U/L. The average total bilirubin was 5.2 mg/dL. Each individual had a single liver biopsy. The histologic findings of the 2 cases biopsied in close temporal proximity to the initial clinical presentation showed similar histologic findings of mixed portal infiltrates with lymphocytes and neutrophils along with bile ductular proliferation that raised the possibility of down stream biliary tract disease. The lobules showed canalicular cholestasis and mild to moderate inflammation. In the third and fourth case, obtained 8 weeks after presentation, the biopsies showed mild to moderate portal and lobular lymphocytic inflammation, findings that were also present in the last case, obtained 18 weeks after presentation. In conclusion, early after acute hepatitis C viral infection, biopsies can have a cholestatic pattern whereas later biopsies tend to show mild nonspecific portal and lobular lymphocytic inflammation. Proper histologic diagnosis can be aided by an awareness of the various histologic findings, which vary depending on the time interval from clinical symptoms to biopsy.

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