RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Mooren-type hepatitis C virus-associated corneal ulceration.

Ophthalmology 1994 April
BACKGROUND: Two patients with bilateral Mooren-type ulcers had underlying chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Both patients also had chronic, pruritic dermatitis, which in one patient was diagnosed as hidradenitis suppurativa.

METHODS: Serum from the first patient and serum, conjunctiva, and liver from the second patient were analyzed for HCV genomic RNA using the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Serum anti-HCV antibodies were monitored with a commercially available second-generation test. Liver and conjunctival biopsies were evaluated histopathologically.

RESULTS: Liver biopsy showed severe hepatitis in the first patient, but normal liver tissue in the second. Hepatitis C virus genomic RNA was detected in the serum of both patients. In the first patient, the virus was detected 4 months after completion of interferon alfa-2b treatment for chronic active hepatitis. In the second patient, HCV genomic RNA was detected in serum, but not in conjunctiva or liver tissue. Hepatitis C virus could not be detected in the serum of the second patient after 2 weeks of interferon alfa-2b treatment. Both patients had serum anti-HCV antibodies. In case 1, there was a marked improvement in the corneal disease during and after 6 months of interferon alfa-2b treatment for chronic active hepatitis that paralleled a return of serum liver enzyme levels to the normal range. In the second patient, the corneal disease improved after 6 weeks of interferon alfa-2b treatment, but abruptly worsened when the patient discontinued therapy. The corneal disease improved again after interferon alfa-2b was reinstituted.

CONCLUSIONS: Chronic HCV virus infection is associated with Mooren-type peripheral ulcerative keratitis. All patients with Mooren-type ulcers should be tested for evidence of HCV infection in consultation with a liver specialist. Even when improvement is obtained with interferon alfa-2b treatment, however, continued follow-up is important because relapse is common and repeat treatment may be effective.

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