Quantitative liver parameters of HCV infection: Relation to HCV genotypes, viremia and response to interferon treatment

Giorgio Ballardini, Aldo Manzin, Fabrizio Giostra, Raffaella Francesconi, Paolo Groff, Alberto Grassi, Laura Solforosi, Sabrina Ghetti, Daniela Zauli, Massimo Clementi, Francesco B. Bianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Aims: This study aimed to evaluate the relation between the number of hepatocytes positive for HCV antigens and the amount of HCV RNA in the liver and to evaluate the relationship between the above parameters and viremia levels, HCV genotype and response to interferon treatment. Methods: This was a retrospective study on 31 consecutive patients with chronic HCV-related liver disease, selected on the basis of the availability of frozen liver tissue for both liver HCV antigens detection and liver HCV RNA quantitation. HCV antigens (immunohistochemistry), liver and plasma HCV RNA (competitive RT-PCR), and HCV genotype (commercial kit) were studied. Results: A significant correlation (p = 0.0005) was found between the amount of liver HCV RNA (log 10 copy/μg of extracted RNA) and the number of HCV-infected hepatocytes (scored from 0 to 3). These parameters were not significantly correlated with viremia levels. The highest liver HCV RNA levels and HCV antigen scores were found in patients infected with genotype 1b. Liver HCV RNA (median 541 x 103 vs 118 x 103 copy number/μg, p = 0.031) and liver HCV antigens (mean score 2.3 vs 1.3, p = 0.018) but not plasma HCV RNA (median 14956 x 103 vs 2.885 x 103 copy number/ml, ns) were significantly higher in patients not responding to interferon treatment compared to responders. Conclusions: The tissue parameters tested in this study were significantly correlated, shared the same clinical implications and predicted short-term response to interferon treatment better than viremia levels. We suggest that these tests should be included in the study protocol of patients under evaluation for interferon treatment, basing the choice on local facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-786
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1997


  • antigens, viral
  • chronic hepatitis
  • liver disease
  • treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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