Hepatitis C virus viremia and low platelet count: a study in a hepatitis B & C endemic area in Taiwan

J Hepatol. 2010 Feb;52(2):160-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2009.11.017. Epub 2009 Dec 3.


Background & aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been shown to be associated with a low platelet count. This study aimed to elucidate the association between virologic status and platelet count in individuals with HCV infection.

Methods: A large-scale survey, enrolling 11,239 residents, was conducted in the Kaohsiung area of Taiwan. Serum HCV RNA and non-invasive markers of fibrosis (FibroTest) were tested for antibody to HCV (anti-HCV)-positive subjects. The platelet counts of age- and sex-matched, biopsy-proven, hospital-based patients and community-based patients with minimal fibrosis were compared.

Results: Anti-HCV was positive in 703 (6.2%) subjects and was significantly associated with older age, female sex, abnormal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) value and low platelet count (<150,000/microl). The independent factors significantly associated with low platelet count were abnormal ALT value (odds ratio [OR]: 3.70, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 2.18-6.28) and positive HCV RNA (OR: 2.00, 95% CI: 1.01-3.97). After adjustment for the fibrosis, HCV RNA remained significantly associated with platelet counts.

Conclusions: Our results evaluating the association between platelet count and HCV viremia and taking the influences of fibrosis into consideration implicate that platelets may be affected directly by HCV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / blood*
  • Hepatitis C / complications
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / virology*
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Count*
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Thrombocytopenia / etiology
  • Thrombocytopenia / virology
  • Viremia / blood
  • Viremia / virology


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • RNA, Viral
  • Alanine Transaminase