Chronic hepatitis C-associated thrombocytopenia: aetiology and management

Trop Gastroenterol. 2013 Apr-Jun;34(2):58-67. doi: 10.7869/tg.2012.99.


Thrombocytopenia is perhaps the most common haematological abnormality in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In these patients, the presence of thrombocytopenia may be a limiting factor when considering antiviral therapy and may be associated with decreased sustained virological response rates. Thrombocytopenia may interfere with diagnostic procedures such as liver biopsy, because of risk of bleeding. Pathogenetic mechanisms include hypersplenism secondary to portal hypertension, bone marrow suppression resulting from either HCV itself or interferon treatment, and aberrations of the immune system resulting in the formation of anti-platelet antibodies and/or immune-complexes that bind to platelets and facilitate their premature clearance. The ability to increase platelet levels could significantly reduce the need for platelet transfusions and facilitate the use of interferon-based antiviral therapy and other medically indicated treatments in patients with liver disease. Therapeutic options include pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies. This review summarizes the available data on these therapeutic options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / immunology
  • Humans
  • Platelet Transfusion
  • Portasystemic Shunt, Transjugular Intrahepatic
  • Receptors, Thrombopoietin / agonists
  • Splenectomy
  • Thrombocytopenia / drug therapy*
  • Thrombocytopenia / immunology
  • Thrombocytopenia / virology*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Receptors, Thrombopoietin