We investigated the presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in 58 patients with humoral immunodeficiencies. Forty-three of these patients had common variable immunodeficiency (CVI), 2 had sporadic hyperimmunoglobulin M (HIM) syndrome, 2 had immunoglobulin C subclass deficiency, 4 had ataxia-telangiectasia (AT), and 7 had X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA). Patients with late-onset hypogammaglobulinemia (those with CVI, HIM, or immunoglobulin G subclass deficiency) had a 38.2% prevalence of HCV infection. In patients with XLA or AT, HCV infection was not detectable. Most of the HCV-infected patients had persistent viremia, with histologic findings of chronic hepatitis. Although patients positive for HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) had received several lots of immunoglobulin, we were unable to detect any correlation between the time that alanine aminotransferase levels increased and the time that intravenous immunoglobulin therapy was given, except in one patient with CVI. Moreover, we found no differences in the number of blood transfusions, surgical procedures, or administrations of intravenous or intramuscular immunoglobulin between HCV RNA-positive and HCV RNA-negative groups. We concluded that: (1) the incidence of HCV infection in patients with hypogammaglobulinemia is much higher than that reported in the Italian general population; (2) although patients with hypogammaglobulinemia have persistent viremia, they do not show an aggressive course of HCV disease, nor does hepatocarcinoma develop; and (3) intravenous immunoglobulins are only one of several possible causes of HCV transmission in patients with humoral immunodeficiencies.
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