Department of Biotechnology and Medical-Surgical Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with a number of extrahepatic disorders. The most studied conditions associated with HCV are type II mixed cryoglobulinemia and B cell lymphoma. However, many reports suggest that HCV might also be associated with a number of autoimmune disorders, both organ-specific and not organ-specific. Although concomitant treatment of HCV infection is a confounding factor when ascertaining the actual role of HCV in inducing autoimmune disease, a considerable amount of experimental data indicates that HCV is able to subvert the immune system and consequently induce autoimmunity. In the present review, we report a series of observations which associate chronic HCV infection with the onset of autoimmune disorders.