Liver histology in Anti-HCV-positive persons with normal or minimally elevated aminotransferases

Thomas G. Morales, Richard E. Sampliner, Achyut Bhattacharyya, Miriam J. Alter

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9 Scopus citations


The significance of a positive hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening test in asymptomatic blood donors with normal or near normal aminotransferases was studied along with the usefulness of HCV RNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for predicting chronic hepatitis in these individuals. One hundred and thirty-nine volunteer blood donors who were found positive by second generation ELISA for antibodies to HCV agreed to participate in the study. Thirty-one of them were supplemental test positive, had ALT values less than twice normal, and were followed over a minimum of 12 months. Thirteen consented to percutaneous liver biopsy and also had HCV RNA determination by PCR. Ten of the 13 subjects were positive for HCV RNA by PCR. Of the nine who were positive for HCV RNA and had adequate tissue for evaluation, seven had evidence of chronic hepatitis, three with limiting plate necrosis. Lobular inflammation was similar in severity to that found in the portal region. In addition, two had periportal fibrosis, and one had bridging fibrosis. Of the three subjects who were negative for HCV RNA, only one had portal inflammation which was limited to the portal region. None of these three had lobular changes, or periportal or bridging fibrosis. Of the three normal biopsies, two were from subjects who were negative for HCV RNA. The sensitivity and specificity of HCV RNA testing for chronic hepatitis was 87.5% and 50%, respectively, yielding an overall accuracy of 75%. We conclude that asymptomatic blood donors with antibodies to HCV, normal or mildly elevated liver tests, and HCV RNA may have abnormal liver histology indicating the potential for progressive liver disease. HCV RNA testing by PCR may be clinically useful as a noninvasive means to discriminate between those with and without chronic liver disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-305
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of clinical gastroenterology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1995


  • Chronic hepatitis C
  • Polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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