Patients 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.Goals
To evaluate the clinical and laboratory characteristics of acute hepatitis C in ESRD patients treated with hemodialysis.Study
ESRD patients on hemodialysis with acute hepatitis C, characterized by elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) followed by anti-HCV seroconversion were studied.Results
Thirty-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.Conclusions
Acute 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.