Objective: To correlate viral genotypes with the immune manifestations of chronic hepatitis C and evaluate the effect of immune features on disease expression and response to antiviral treatment.
Design: We undertook a retrospective analysis of 67 patients with chronic hepatitis C.
Material and methods: Patients were selected for study if they had been screened for autoantibodies and concurrent immune diseases and if viral genotyping had been performed or was possible. Concurrent immune manifestations and responses to interferon therapy were determined.
Results: Of the 67 patients, 18 (27%) had one or more immune features. Immune manifestations occurred as commonly in patients with genotype 1 as in those with other genotypes (30% versus 14%; P = 0.3). Concurrent immune features did not distinguish patients, and responses to interferon therapy were similar between patients with and those without immune manifestations. None of the 14 patients with concurrent immune diseases or high-titer autoantibodies (serum titers, 1:320 or more) entered remission during interferon treatment. In contrast, 6 of 53 patients without concurrent immune diseases and no or low-titer autoantibodies had treatment-related remission. These differences, however, were not statistically significant (0% versus 11%; P = 0.3).
Conclusion: Autoantibodies and concurrent immune diseases are not associated with a particular viral genotype, clinical profile, or treatment outcome. Larger studies are necessary for complete assessment of the influence of prominent immune manifestations on treatment response.