Hepatitis C virus associated cryoglobulinemic neuropathy successfully treated with plasma exchange

Artif Organs. 1995 Apr;19(4):334-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1594.1995.tb02337.x.


A 28-year-old Japanese woman who suffered from mononeuritis multiplex was admitted to our hospital. Serological study revealed cryoglobulinemia (type III), hypocomplementemia, high titers of rheumatoid factor (RF), and positive antihepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody. Nerve conduction velocities were slower in sensory nerves than in motor nerves. Biopsied sural nerve showed a marked decrease of myelinated fibers but no evidence of angitis. She received plasma exchange and cryoglobulinpheresis over a period of 2 months with approximately 2.0 L (40 ml/kg) of plasma replaced in each procedure. Both plasma exchange and cryoglobulinpheresis alleviated clinical symptoms, and nerve conduction velocities were improved in several nerves. The serum cryoglobulin level was markedly reduced after the treatment together with the recovery of the C4 level. Thus, complements appeared to be consumed in large quantities in the presence of cryoglobulinemia in this patient. Efficacy of cryoglobulinpheresis indicates the possibility that cryoglobulins produced in association with HCV infection played a role in damaging the nerve directly through the activation of the complement system.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Complement System Proteins / deficiency
  • Cryoglobulinemia / etiology*
  • Cryoglobulinemia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Plasma Exchange*


  • Complement System Proteins