Prevalence and characteristics of peripheral neuropathy in hepatitis C virus population

Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Via Sergio Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, and Department of Neurology, Hospital Maggiore, Lodi, Italy.
Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.58). 05/2006; 77(5):626-9. DOI: 10.1136/jnnp.2005.081570
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To assess the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy (PN) and its correlation with cryoglobulinemia (CG) in an unselected, untreated referral hepatitis C virus (HCV) population.
Two hundred and thirty four patients (120 women and 114 men) with untreated HCV infection were consecutively enrolled by seven Italian centres. Clinical neuropathy was diagnosed when symptoms and signs of peripheral sensory or motor involvement were present. Median, ulnar, peroneal, and sural nerves were explored in all patients and distal symmetric polyneuropathy was diagnosed when all explored nerves or both lower limb nerves were affected. Mononeuropathy and mononeuropathy multiplex were diagnosed when one nerve or two non-contiguous nerves with asymmetrical distribution were affected. Screening for CG was done in 191 unselected patients.
Clinical signs of PN were observed in 25 of the 234 patients (10.6%). Electrophysiological PN was found in 36 (15.3%). CG was present in 56/191 patients (29.3%). The prevalence of CG increased significantly with age (p<0.001) and disease duration (p<0.05). PN was present in 12/56 (21%) patients with CG and 18/135 (13%) without CG (p=NS). PN increased significantly with age (p<0.001) and logistic regression analysis confirmed age as the only independent predictor of PN (OR 1.10 for each year; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.15; p<0.001).
Electrophysiological examination detected subclinical neuropathy in 11 patients (4.7%). Statistical analysis showed that CG was not a risk factor for PN whereas PN prevalence increased significantly with age.

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    ABSTRACT: Peripheral neuropathy is the most common neurologic complication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The pathophysiology of the neuropathy associated with HCV is not definitively known; however, proposed mechanisms include cryoglobulin deposition in the vasa nervorum and HCV-mediated vasculitis. The optimal treatment for HCV-related peripheral neuropathy has not been established. To assess the effects of interventions (including interferon alfa, interferon alfa plus ribavirin, corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, plasma exchange, and rituximab) for cryoglobulinemic or non-cryoglobulinemic peripheral neuropathy associated with HCV infection. On 26 August 2014, we searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE. We also searched two trials registers, the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) (October 2014), and three other databases. We checked references in identified trials and requested information from trial authors to identify any additional published or unpublished data. We included all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs involving participants with cryoglobulinemic or non-cryoglobulinemic peripheral neuropathy associated with HCV infection. We considered any intervention (including interferon alfa, interferon alfa plus ribavirin, corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, plasma exchange, and rituximab) alone or in combination versus placebo or another intervention ('head-to-head' comparison study design) evaluated after a minimum interval to follow-up of at least six months. We used standard methodological procedures expected by The Cochrane Collaboration. The planned primary outcome was change in sensory impairment (using any validated sensory neuropathy scale or quantitative sensory testing) at the end of the follow-up period. Other planned outcomes were: change in impairment (any validated combined sensory and motor neuropathy scale), change in disability (any validated disability scale), electrodiagnostic measures, number of participants with improved symptoms of neuropathy (global impression of change), and severe adverse events. Four trials of HCV-related cryoglobulinemia fulfiled selection criteria and the review authors included three in quantitative synthesis. All studies were at high risk of bias. No trial addressed the primary outcome of change in sensory impairment. No trial addressed secondary outcomes of change in combined sensory and motor impairment, disability, or electrodiagnostic measures. A single trial of HCV-related mixed cryoglobulinemia treated with pegylated interferon alfa (peginterferon alfa), ribavirin, and rituximab versus peginterferon alfa and ribavirin did not show a significant difference in the number of participants with improvement in neuropathy at 36 months post treatment (risk ratio (RR) 4.00, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.27 to 59.31, n = 9). One study of interferon alfa (n = 22) and two studies of rituximab (n = 61) provided adverse event data. Severe adverse events were no more common with interferon alfa (RR 7.00, 95% CI 0.38 to 128.02) or rituximab (RR 3.00, 95% CI 0.13 to 67.06) compared to the control group. There is a lack of RCTs and quasi-RCTs addressing the effects of interventions for peripheral neuropathy associated with HCV infection. At present, there is insufficient evidence from RCTs and quasi-RCTs to make evidence-based decisions about treatment.
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