Renal manifestations of hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis C is an important cause of renal disease, and renal complications may be the presenting manifestation of hepatitis C infection. About half of patients present with evidence of renal insufficiency, and up to one quarter present with nephrotic syndrome. Others present with proteinuria or evidence of diminished renal function. The pathogenesis of hepatitis C-associated renal disease remains incompletely defined, but most evidence suggests that glomerular injury results from deposition of circulating immune complexes in the subendothelium and mesangium. Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, with or without cryoglobulinemia, is the most common renal lesion. Interferon alpha-2b is currently the treatment of choice. However, success is limited, with many patients failing to respond or suffering relapse upon discontinuation of therapy. Studies of newer treatment modalities, such as longer courses of interferon or the use of ribavirin or immunosuppressive agents, are underway. Hepatitis C-associated renal disease may progress to end-stage renal failure requiring dialysis in about 10% of patients.
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