Correlation between histologic staging, hepatitis C virus genotypes and clinical features in HCV chronic hepatitis: Evidence of a new pattern

L. Di Tommaso, S. Macchia, L. Morandi, S. Leoncini, A. Pession, P. R. Dal Monte, Maria Pia Foschini

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Genome heterogeneity may be related to the wide variability of clinical and pathological features in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related chronic liver disease. This paper addresses the possible association between HCV subtypes and clinical and histological features of chronically infected patients. Sixty-eight consecutive liver biopsies of chronic hepatitis constituted the basis of the study. HCV genotyping was performed on frozen tissue. Grading of necroinflammatory activity and staging of fibrosis were histologically assessed. Serologic HCV-RNA and liver function were assessed at the same time. All information was compared with clinical data including age, sex, HCV serology, and probable data and route of infection. Two cases were excluded as inadequate tissue was available. Five cases were negative to HCV-RNA in both serum and tissue. In 61 cases HCV RNA was present at the same time in serum and liver tissue. Forty-four patients were men (72%) and 17 (28%) were women. Two peaks of age were observed: 1 in the 4th decade of life, the 2nd in the 7th. The 2 groups had different HCV genotypes. Patients with genotypes lb (mean age 50.7 years), 2c (mean age 61.3 years), and a subgroup of coinfections (mean age 60 years) were older than patients with genotypes la (mean age 35.5 years), 3 (mean age 36 years), and a sub-group of coinfections (mean age 33 years). Patients with genotypes 1b, 2, or 2c and a subgroup of coinfections more frequently had a history of blood transfusion and or surgical intervention dating up to 49 years previously. Patients with HCV 1a, 3, and a subgroup of coinfections frequently admitted a period of intravenous drug abuse. Patients with advanced liver disease, i.e., severe fibrosis and cirrhosis, showed the same 2 peaks of incidence: in the 4th and 7th decades of life, the first group mainly comprising patients with HCV types 1a and 3, the second, patients with HCV types 1b and 2c. Both these groups shared a clinical history of a long-standing infection. Two profiles of patients emerged. The largest group was composed of elderly patients, infected by HCV genotypes 1b or 2c, with a history of blood transfusion and/or surgery, presenting an advanced stage of liver disease (namely, severe fibrosis or cirrhosis). The second group was composed of younger patients, mainly in the 4th decade of life, infected by HCV types 3 or 1a, often presenting with chronic hepatitis in the stage of severe fibrosis or cirrhosis. The latter could be the profile of HCV infection in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003


  • Cirrhosis
  • HCV
  • Hepatitis
  • Liver biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Surgery


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