Expression and clinical significance of antinuclear antibody in hepatitis C virus infection

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2001 Nov-Dec;33(5):402-6. doi: 10.1097/00004836-200111000-00012.


Background: The prevalence of antinuclear antibody (ANA) has been documented in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We attempted to determine the titer and to characterize the patterns and clinical significance of ANA in HCV infection.

Study: Forty-eight consecutive patients with positive anti-HCV antibody and positive HCV RNA were included in this study. Sera from patients were tested for ANA and anti-smooth muscle antibody by indirect immunofluorescence. Serum aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, alpha-fetoprotein, and cryoglobulin levels also were determined.

Results: Eleven (23%) of 48 HCV-infected patients were positive for ANA. Antinuclear antibody revealed speckled pattern in 10 (91%) of the 11 ANA-positive HCV-infected patients. Twenty (54%) of 37 ANA-negative HCV-infected patients had detectable pattern with equivocal titer (titer <1.5). The ANA pattern was speckled in all 20 patients. Hepatitis C virus-infected patients with positive ANA were older than the HCV-infected patients with negative ANA (62.90 +/- 11.05 years vs. 56.46 +/- 14.94 years, respectively; p < 0.1). Serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase (39.36 +/- 14.98 IU/L vs. 30.70 +/- 23.15 IU/L, p < 0.05), alkaline phosphatase (189.00 +/- 75.63 IU/L vs. 122.41 +/- 40.88 IU/L, p < 0.01), and alpha-fetoprotein (47.72 +/- 80.47 pg/dL vs. 7.00 +/- 8.28 pg/dL, p < 0.01) were higher in ANA-positive HCV-infected patients than in ANA-negative HCV-infected patients, respectively. There were no significant differences in gender, alanine aminotransferase, anti-smooth muscle antibody, or cryoglobulin between the two groups.

Conclusions: Antinuclear antibody was present in 11 (23%) of 48 patients with HCV infection in our study. Speckled pattern is the major expression pattern of ANA in HCV infection. Antinuclear antibody-positive HCV-infected patients have significantly higher serum aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and alpha-fetoprotein levels than ANA-negative HCV-infected patients.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology*
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Cryoglobulins / analysis
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Hepatitis C / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Cryoglobulins
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alkaline Phosphatase