It is widely thought, but not yet explained, that there might be a pathogenetic link between the infection of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the onset of B non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). We studied the prevalence of serum anti-HCV antibodies among 300 NHL comparing it with the prevalence among 600 age- and sex-matched non-neoplastic subjects as controls, 247 patients with non-lymphomatous neoplasm, and 122 patients treated with immunosuppressive agents. We found a prevalence of 0.16 among NHL and 0.085 among controls and non-lymphomatous patients. Although the difference was statistically significant (P < 0.001), the odds ratio was 2.049 and its confidence intervals included the equality. The HCV prevalence was independent of NHL subset, and the genotypes distribution was the same among NHL and controls. We disclosed a HBsAg prevalence of 0.077 in NHL versus 0.008 in controls (P < 0.001) with an odds ratio of 9.9. We do not believe that these findings support the hypothesis of an HCV pathogenetic role in lymphomagenesis because (i) the risk of previous infection is marginally higher in NHL than in controls, (ii) a typical genotype distribution is lacking, as is a NHL clinico-histological feature associated with HCV, and (iii) the higher prevalence of viral infection is not specific as witnessed by the high HBsAg prevalence.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.