A sensitive radioimmunoassay was used to detect antibodies to hepatitis C virus (HCV) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic hepatitis. HCV antibodies (anti-HCV) were detected in 86 of 132 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma with no relation to the presence or absence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). The prevalence of anti-HCV was also high in patients with diseases thought to predispose to hepatocellular carcinoma, such as non-A, non-B chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis (74%). In HBsAg-negative patients with hepatocellular carcinoma the prevalence of anti-HCV was lower than that in patients with non-A, non-B chronic hepatitis (16% vs 55%); the prevalence of serum antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc), a marker of hepatitis B virus infection, was 70% and 28%, respectively. In HBsAg-negative patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, anti-HCV and anti-HBc occurred together nearly three times as often as in patients with chronic hepatitis (54% vs 19%). These data indicate that, in Italy, HCV is an important factor associated with hepatocellular carcinoma and non-A, non-B chronic hepatitis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas