Hepatitis C virus-associated glomerulonephritis. Effect of alpha-interferon therapy

Kidney Int. 1994 Dec;46(6):1700-4. doi: 10.1038/ki.1994.471.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection may present as a primary glomerular disease. We report 34 adult patients who presented with proteinuria and had circulating anti-HCV antibodies. Primary risk factors included a history of intravenous drug abuse (56%) or blood transfusion (18%). Patients presented with nephrotic syndrome (71%) or with non-nephrotic proteinuria (29%) and had membranoproliferative or acute proliferative glomerulonephritis on renal biopsy. Signs of clinical liver disease were infrequent (18%), though elevated liver function tests were common (66%) and liver biopsy in 16 of 18 patients showed chronic active hepatitis. Cryoglobulinemia was frequent (59%), but only 44% had extrarenal manifestations. In 100% of cases tested, HCV RNA could be found in the serum or cryoprecipitates. Fourteen patients received interferon alpha for 6 to 12 months with a significant reduction in proteinuria but no improvement in renal function. A good clinical response correlated with disappearance of HCV RNA from the serum during treatment; however, relapse of viremia and renal disease was common after completing therapy. Evidence for HCV infection should be sought in all patients with primary glomerular disease. The optimal treatment strategy, however, remains to be defined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cryoglobulinemia / etiology
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis / diagnosis
  • Glomerulonephritis / etiology*
  • Glomerulonephritis / therapy*
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / therapy*
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Recombinant Proteins


  • Hepatitis Antibodies
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • RNA, Viral
  • Recombinant Proteins