Source Department of Public Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.
AIMS: To evaluate changes in Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) RNA both in plasma and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMC) in onco-haematological patients.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: 8 consecutive anti-HCV/HCV RNA-positive patients with onco-haematological diseases (5 with B-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and 3 with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia) were observed during chemotherapy and after its discontinuation. All were naïve to chemotherapy. HCV RNA was sought by Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction in Light Cycler 1.5 in plasma and PBMC samples collected before, during and after chemotherapy.
RESULTS: An increase in HCV RNA of at least 1.5logIU/mL in plasma and 1.1logIU/ml in PBMC was observed in all 7 patients undergoing Rituximab-based chemotherapy; these patients showed a hepatic flare after discontinuation, life-threatening in one with cirrhosis. Also the 8th patient had cirrhosis, but was treated with Rituximab-sparing chemotherapy and did not show any increase in HCV RNA or a hepatic flare.
CONCLUSION: Rituximab-based chemotherapy favours an increase in HCV RNA in onco-haematological patients; this is followed by a hepatic flare, possibly immune-mediated and life threatening in cirrhotic patients.