Clinical and Laboratory Characteristics of Acute Hepatitis C in Patients With End-stage Renal Disease on Hemodialysis

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BackgroundPatients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) undergoing hemodialysis are a risk group for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The characteristics of acute hepatitis C infection in this population are not well known.GoalsTo evaluate the clinical and laboratory characteristics of acute hepatitis C in ESRD patients treated with hemodialysis.StudyESRD patients on hemodialysis with acute hepatitis C, characterized by elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) followed by anti-HCV seroconversion were studied.ResultsThirty-six patients (58% females, 44±12 y), with a mean time on hemodialysis of 2 years, were included. Only 2 (6%) patients had jaundice. ALT elevation was observed in all patients. Median peak ALT was 4.7 ×upper limit of normal. The median interval between ALT elevation and anti-HCV seroconversion was 1 month (0 to 8). None of the patients with detectable HCV-RNA showed spontaneous clearance of viremia within 12 weeks of follow-up. Three (8%) patients presented ALT elevation followed by anti-HCV seroconversion with undetectable HCV-RNA.ConclusionsAcute hepatitis C is frequently asymptomatic in ESRD patients on hemodialysis and should be suspected in all patients presenting elevated ALT. Determination of HCV-RNA is important for the confirmation of infection. Anti-HCV seroconversion seems to occur early and spontaneous clearance of HCV-RNA is uncommon.

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