Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
Spontaneous clearance of serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in chronic HCV carriers is assumed to be rare especially after development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We analyzed patients with chronic hepatitis C who spontaneously resolved serum HCV RNA after the treatment for HCC.
A database search was performed to identify patients with HCC in whom serum HCV RNA was positive before the treatment for HCC and became negative during the clinical course. Those who received interferon therapy were excluded.
A total of 1145 patients with HCC who had not received interferon therapy were positive for HCV RNA before the treatment. Among them, five patients (M/F = 4/1) spontaneously resolved viremia during the clinical course, with the incidence rate of at least 0.11%/person-year (95% confidence interval: 0.05%-0.26%). The mean age at the time of negative test for HCV RNA was 77 (range: 52-84). Three and two were infected with HCV genotype 1 and 2, respectively. The mean initial viral load was 9.0 K IU/mL (range: 1.6-31.6). The alanine aminotransferase level decreased to within the normal range in all patients after the clearance of serum HCV RNA. Fibrosis grade of background liver, evaluated according to METAVIR classification, was F1 in 1, F2 in 1, F4 in 2, and unknown in 1. All patients survived more than 7 years after the initial treatment for HCC.
Spontaneous clearance of serum HCV RNA after HCC development possibly occurs even in elderly patients. The prognosis was good probably due to improved inflammation in the liver.