Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with mixed cryoglobulinemia and membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis. After orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), isolated cases of HCV-associated mixed cryoglobulinemia have been reported. We determined the prevalence and clinical characteristics of mixed cryoglobulinemia in HCV-infected liver transplant recipients at our institution. Between January 1991 and February 1998, a total of 191 OLTs were performed in 178 patients. Among these transplant recipients, 53 patients (29.8%) had positive serological test results for HCV infection by second-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We studied 31 HCV-positive (HCV+) and 21 HCV-negative (HCV-) transplant recipients (control group). Renal and liver function studies were performed, and cryoglobulin, rheumatoid factor, C3, C4, and serum HCV RNA levels and genotype were determined. Results were compared using unpaired Student's t-test for continuous variables and Fishers exact test for categorical variables. Baseline characteristics were similar between the groups. Six patients in the HCV+ group (19%) had mixed cryoglobulius present at the time of evaluation compared with none in the HCV- group (P = .036). The only parameter associated with cryoglobulius in the HCV+ group was rheumatoid factor (P < .01). In 3 HCV+ patients with cryoglobulins, extrarenal signs of cryoglobulinemia were present. Glomerulonephritis was found in 4 HCV+ patients. Two patients with purpura and cryoglobulinemia had reduced clinical manifestations after antiviral therapy. In conclusion, mixed cryoglobulinemia was found in approximately 20% of the HCV+ liver transplant recipients. The presence of purpura or glomerulonephritis suggests HCV- associated mixed cryoglobulinemia, a clinical syndrome that may respond favorably to antiviral therapy. (C) 2000 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
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