Serum cryoglobulin and chronic hepatitis C virus disease among Japanese patients

Am J Gastroenterol. 1995 Oct;90(10):1847-52.


Objectives: Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated mixed cryoglobulins appear to be detected often in hepatitis C-related chronic liver disease. The association of the two phenomenon among Japanese patients is the subject of the present study.

Methods: Serum levels of total hemolytic complement (CH50) and anti-C3d-binding immune complex, as well as the prevalence of cryoglobulins, were studied in 213 patients with chronic liver disease (hepatitis C, 155; hepatitis B, 58). Cryoprecipitates were tested for anti-HCV Ab and HCV RNA.

Results: CH50 activity was significantly lower in patients with hepatitis C than in those with hepatitis B except in responders to interferon who showed a sustained loss of HCV RNA. Cryoglobulins were detected in 24 (37%) of 65 patients with hepatitis C; they generally consisted of polyclonal immunoglobulins but one case. Cryoglobulins were more frequently observed in cirrhotic patients and in those with a longer duration of disease. Cryoglobulinemia-related clinical signs such as vasculitis occurred in only three cases. Patients with cryoglobulins had lower CH50 activity and higher immune complex values than those without cryoglobulins. Anti-HCV Ab and HCV RNA were detected in all cryoprecipitates tested.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that HCV is a major cause of cryoglobulins and advanced liver damage. However, serum cryoglobulins with polyclonal immunoglobulins appear to be less frequent among Japanese patients than among those studied in Western countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carrier State / blood
  • Chronic Disease
  • Complement Hemolytic Activity Assay
  • Cryoglobulins / analysis*
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis B / blood
  • Hepatitis C / blood*
  • Hepatitis C / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / therapy
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / analysis
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / analysis


  • Cryoglobulins
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • Interferon-alpha
  • RNA, Viral