Antibodies to hepatitis C virus in autoimmune liver disease: evidence for geographical heterogeneity

Lancet. 1991 Aug 3;338(8762):277-80. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(91)90418-o.


To resolve conflicting reports about the occurrence of antibodies against hepatitis C virus (HCV) in patients with autoimmune chronic active hepatitis (AI-CAH), sera from UK and Italian patients were tested with the original anti-HCV assay (Ortho) and a novel anti-HCV assay (UBI) based entirely on synthetic HCV peptides. 28 (60%) of 47 Italian patients with type-1 AI-CAH were anti-HCV-positive by Ortho ELISA, 25 of whom were also strongly positive by the UBI assay. 15 (60%) of 25 UK patients with type-1 AI-CAH were HCV-positive by Ortho ELISA but only 2 were positive by the UBI assay. Similarly, 29 (88%) of 33 Italian patients with type-2 AI-CAH, but 0 of 10 UK patients, were very strongly anti-HCV-positive with the UBI assay. Italian patients with AI-CAH appear to have a high frequency of genuine exposure to HCV, whereas seropositivity by the Ortho HCV ELISA in UK patients is likely to represent a false-positive result. These findings indicate important geographical and/or genetic influences in autoimmune liver disease among different populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asialoglycoprotein Receptor
  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / ethnology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / immunology*
  • Hepatitis Antibodies / analysis*
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / ethnology
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis*
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • United Kingdom


  • Asialoglycoprotein Receptor
  • Autoantibodies
  • Hepatitis Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Immunologic