This study was carried out on 33 patients who were sero-positive for liver-kidney microsomal antibodies (LKM) in order to examine clinical features and the presence of underlying hepatitis C virus infection. Twenty-four sera were positive for antibodies against HCV (anti-HCV) as detected by enzyme immunoassay and confirmed by recombinant immunoblot assay. These patients had chronic liver disease and the majority of those treated with interferon responded favourably. Three of the nine anti-HCV-negative patients had idiopathic chronic hepatitis and two responded favourably to steroids. Two patients were diagnosed as having toxic hepatitis and the other four had various extrahepatic disorders without evidence of liver involvement. The immunoblotting analysis showed reactivity with a 50 kDa microsomal protein which presumably corresponded to cytochrome P-450 db1 both in anti-HCV-positive and -negative sera. In addition a few anti-HCV-positive sera also reacted with a 35 kDa microsomal antigen. Autoimmune markers different from LKM were absent in both groups. The high prevalence of antibodies to the hepatitis C virus among LKM-positive sera confirms that this infection plays a role in forms of chronic hepatitis that had previously been labelled autoimmune. In patients with LKM the presence of anti-HCV may help to forecast a therapeutic response to interferon, while its absence may forecast response to steroid therapy.
Journal of Hepatology 08/1991; 13(1):128-31. DOI:10.1016/0168-8278(91)90874-B · 10.40 Impact Factor