, Volume 7, Issue 3 Supplement, pp 201-208
Date: 17 Oct 2012

The hepatitis C virus infection as a systemic disease

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Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a major health problem, infecting about 3 % of people worldwide and leading to liver as well as extrahepatic diseases. This justifies the definition of HCV infection as a systemic disease. Based on available data, the link between the virus and some of these extrahepatic disorders is certain, whereas for some others needs further confirmation. HCV-related lymphoproliferative disorders, ranging from benign, but pre-lymphomatous conditions, like mixed cryoglobulinemia, to frank lymphomas, represent the extrahepatic manifestations most closely related to HCV. The primary involvement of the liver and lymphatic system corresponds to the double viral tropism, being HCV able to infect both hepatic and lymphatic cells. Other HCV-associated disorders include renal, endocrine, dermatological, cardiovascular, rheumatologic and central nervous system diseases. On the whole, the HCV disease appears a very important, mainly hidden, public health problem leading to heavy direct and indirect costs. The possibility that HCV may be eradicated following antiviral therapy is important for both the therapeutic and preventive points of view, making the HCV disease an ideal model for pathogenetic studies.