Hepatitis C virus infection in patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Ann Intern Med. 1997 Sep 15;127(6):423-8. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-127-6-199709150-00002.


Background: Several studies from Europe have reported a high prevalence (9% to 32%) of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It has been suggested that HCV plays a role in the pathogenesis of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of HCV infection in patients with B-cell lymphoma in the United States.

Design: Controlled, cross-sectional analysis.

Setting: University medical center.

Patients: 120 patients with B-cell lymphoma (78% were Hispanic, 9% were black, 7% were Asian, and 6% were white), 154 patients with other malignant hematologic conditions (control group 1), and 114 patients with nonmalignant conditions (control group 2).

Measurements: Samples were tested for antibodies to HCV by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Hepatitis C virus RNA was detected by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Genotyping for HCV was done with genotype-specific primers from the HCV core region.

Results: Infection with HCV was detected in 26 patients (22% [95% CI, 15% to 30%]) with B-cell lymphoma compared with 7 of 154 patients (4.5%) in control group 1 and 6 of 114 patients (5%) in control group 2 (P < 0.001). Risk factors for HCV infection were present in 15 patients (60%) with B-cell lymphoma and occurred a median of 15 years before diagnosis of lymphoma. Monocytoid B-cell lymphoma was the most common type of lymphoma found in HCV-positive patients (23% compared with 7% in HCV-negative patients) (P = 0.034).

Conclusions: The prevalence of HCV infection was higher in patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma than in controls. The possible role of HCV in the pathogenesis of B-cell lymphoma warrants further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • RNA, Viral / blood


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • RNA, Viral