Background/aims: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and clinical significance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in patients with the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS).
Methods: A series of 88 consecutive patients (78 female and 10 male), with a mean age of 39 years (range 15-79), was prospectively studied. All patients had been diagnosed with APS: 54 (61%) primary APS and 34 (39%) APS associated with systemic lupus erythematosus. A group of 200 apparently healthly blood donors was included in the study. Anti-HCV antibodies were investigated in the serum of all patients using a third-generation ELISA and confirmed by recombinant immunoblot assay. RNA-HCV was investigated in anti-HCV positive samples by polymerase chain reaction. Anticardiolipin, anti-beta2-glycoprotein I and antiprothrombin antibodies were evaluated by ELISA. Lupus anticoagulant was studied by coagulometric assays.
Results: Only 2 (2.2%) patients showed positivity for anti-HCV antibodies, but none of them had clinical or biochemical signs of liver disease. Furthermore, RNA-HCV was not detected in serum of any of these patients. Lupus anticoagulant was positive in 57% of patients. Anticardiolipin antibodies were positive in 60% of patients, anti-beta2-glycoprotein I antibodies in 43% of patients, and antiprothrombin antibodies in 56% of patients. The prevalence of anti-HCV in blood donors was 1%.
Conclusions: The prevalence of anti-HCV in patients with APS is low and similar to that in healthy people in our area. HCV infection does not seem to be involved in the etiopathogenesis of this syndrome.