Clinico-pathological significance of hepatitis C virus core antigen levels in chronic infection

Emanuele Durante-Mangoni, Luca Vallefuoco, Rosanna Sorrentino, Domenico Iossa, Enzo Perna, Rosa Molaro, Umberto Braschi, Rosa Zampino, Giuseppe Sodano, Luigi Elio Adinolfi, Riccardo Utili, Giuseppe Portella
Journal of Medical Virology 2013, 85 (11): 1913-8
Hepatitis C virus core antigen (HCVcoreAg) may be measured in serum with a sensitive, recently validated assay. Beyond its value as a marker of viral infection, there are little data on its relation with clinical, histological, and virological parameters. In this study, the significance of HCVcoreAg levels was studied in a prospective cohort of 114 patients with chronic hepatitis C. HCVcoreAg was measured by a commercial chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay. Clinical and virological data included quantitative HCV-RNA, HCV genotype, ALT, GGT, IL28B rs12979860 polymorphism as well as liver histology parameters. HCVcoreAg levels were correlated significantly with HCV-RNA (r=0.56; P<0.0001) but also with ALT levels (r=0.258; P<0.01) and liver necroinflammatory activity (r=0.205; P<0.04). Patients harbouring HCV genotype 3 showed lower levels of HCVcoreAg than both genotype 1 and two patients. In genotype 3, a direct correlation between steatosis and HCVcoreAg was found. Levels of HCVcoreAg also varied according to the IL28B genotype. These data suggest that the evaluation of HCVcoreAg serum levels may provide relevant data for the baseline clinical evaluation of chronic hepatitis C patients. HCVcoreAg serum levels may be a useful tool to further the understanding of chronic hepatitis C pathobiology.

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