Blood Purification Unit, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan.
Anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody seropositivity is independently associated with poor prognosis in hemodialysis (HD) patients. However, anti-HCV antibody cannot distinguish between patients with active infection and those who have recovered from infection. We therefore aimed in this study to examine the association of HCV core antigen (HCVcAg) seropositivity with mortality in HD patients. We first measured serum HCVcAg using an immunoradiometric assay and anti-HCV antibody in 405 patients on regular HD, and followed them for 104 months. There were 82 patients (20.2%) who had been positive for anti-HCV antibodies; 57 (69.5%) of these were positive for HCVcAg. During the follow-up, 29 patients were excluded, so we tested the association of HCVcAg seropositivity with all-cause, cardiovascular (CV) and non-CV mortalities in 376 patients. A total of 209 patients (55.6%) had expired during the observational period, 92 out of them due to CV causes. After adjusting for comorbid parameters, HCVcAg was independently associated with overall mortality (HR 1.61, 95% CI 1.05-2.47, p < 0.05). HCV infection was significantly related to liver disease-related mortality. Past HCV infection also contributed to CV mortality (HR 2.63, 95% CI 1.27-5.45, p < 0.01). In contrast, anti-HCV antibody and HCVcAg seropositivities did not associate with infectious disease-related and cancer-related (expect for hepatocellular carcinoma) mortality. It follows from these findings that HCVcAg serology is associated with all-cause and CV mortality in HD patients.