Article Type

Original Study


Objective To study the relationship between chronic hepatitis C infection and microvascular complications in nondiabetic individuals. Background Several extrahepatic manifestations have been reported in the natural history of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Further, extrahepatic manifestation syndromes could represent the first signal of an HCV infection, as many patients show no hepatic symptoms. As known microvascular complications of diabetes include neuropathy, nephropathy and retinopathy, this study was conducted to evaluate the effect of chronic HCV infection on microvascular complications in nondiabetic patients. Subjects and methods Fifty patients with chronic hepatitis C infection were enrolled. All were subjected to full clinical assessment including routine blood tests, fasting and 2 h postprandial blood glucose, HbA1c, HCV-RNA PCR, urinary albumin concentration indicating the presence of microalbuminuria, liver biopsy and fundus examination. Results Microalbuminuria was diagnosed in five patients (10%) with chronic hepatitis C, whereas 15 patients (30%) had peripheral neuropathy as diagnosed by clinical examination; no retinopathy was diagnosed in these patients. Peripheral neuropathy correlated with age, HCV viremia and stages of liver biopsy. Conclusion Patients with chronic HCV infection had a high incidence of developing microalbuminuria (10%), a very high incidence of developing peripheral neuropathy (30%) and no incidence of developing retinopathy (zero%). Age, the HCV-RNA level and liver fibrosis are prominent risk factors for the occurrence of peripheral neuropathy in chronic HCV-infected patients.