Objective: To determine the prevalence, target antigens and clinical associations of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) in chronic hepatitis C without extrahepatic manifestations and in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC) in two European centers.
Methods: 50 sera from patients with chronic hepatitis C and 116 sera from HCV-associated MC were tested for cytoplasmic or perinuclear pattern (C-ANCA/P-ANCA) by indirect immunofluorescence test (IFT). ANCA target antigens were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Results: Clinical characteristics of the patients were not different between the two centers. Cryoglobulinemic vasculitis (CV) was biopsy-proven in about 90% of the MC patients. Two patients with HCV-associated MC and 1 patient with chronic hepatitis C had a P-ANCA. A C-ANCA was detected in 1 patient with HCV-associated MC. Eight patients with a HCV-associated MC and 5 patients with chronic hepatitis C had an ANCA either directed against bactericidal/permeability increasing protein (BPI) or cathepsin G (CG). BPI- or CG-ANCA positivity was not associated with a more severe disease course. The C-ANCA titer followed disease activity in one C-ANCA positive HCV-associated MC patient. The subspecificity of the C-ANCA was not determinable in that patient.
Conclusion: Two new target antigens of ANCA have been identified in HCV-associated MC and chronic hepatitis C in this study. BPI-ANCA and GC-ANCA were present in about 10% of patients with HCV-associated MC or chronic hepatitis C. ELISA proved to be more sensitive in the detection of ANCA than IFT. The present study on chronic HCV infection adds to various reports on the induction of CG- and BPI-ANCA in chronic infections.