Background: Infection with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been linked to glomerulonephritis. We undertook this study to determine whether having a positive HCV test result was associated with an increased risk for developing treated end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Methods: Using data from Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the United States Renal Data System, we performed a retrospective cohort study of 474,369 adult veterans who had serum creatinine levels measured between October 1, 2000, and September 30, 2001, and HCV antibody testing within 1 year of creatinine testing. Patients were followed up until October 1, 2004, for the outcome of treated ESRD, defined as the onset of chronic dialysis or renal transplantation. Cox proportional hazards models were used to determine the relative hazard for ESRD associated with HCV, adjusted for other covariates (age, sex, race/ethnicity, and comorbidities).
Results: Of 474,369 patients in the cohort, 52,874 (11.1%) had a positive HCV antibody test result. Patients with HCV were more likely to develop ESRD: the rate per 1000 person-years was 4.26 (95% confidence interval, 3.97-4.57) for HCV-seropositive patients vs 3.05 (95% confidence interval, 2.96-3.14) for HCV-seronegative patients. For patients aged 18 to 70 years with an estimated glomerular filtration rate of at least 30 mL/min per 1.73 m2, HCV seropositivity was associated with a greater than 2-fold risk for developing ESRD (adjusted hazard rate, 2.80; 95% confidence interval, 2.43-3.23).
Conclusion: In this large national cohort of adult veterans, patients younger than 70 years with HCV seropositivity were at increased risk for developing ESRD treated with dialysis or transplantation.