May hepatic granulomas be part of the histological spectrum of chronic hepatitis C?

December 29, 2008

While older large series of patients with hepatic granulomas have found sarcoidosis and tuberculosis to be the most common causes of hepatic granulomas, recent works have noted some patients with chronic hepatic C and hepatic granulomas and no other obvious associations. Today, patients that undergo liver biopsy often have chronic hepatitis C that is being staged prior to possible anti viral therapy. The age of HIV and immunosuppression for organ transplants has also made opportunistic infections associated with hepatic granulomas more likely.

A research article to be published on November 7, 2008 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology addresses this question. The research team led by Ned Snyder from the University of Texas medical branch report a retrospective study of over 4 000 liver biopsies as well as a prospective study of 240 patients with chronic hepatitis C undergoing routine liver biopsies. They found that the most common association for hepatic granulomas was chronic hepatitis C. In the prospective study of patients with stable hepatitis C, almost 1% had hepatic granulomas.

In this paper, no reason for the association between granulomas and hepatitis C was found unless granuloma formation is part of the immune response to chronic hepatitis C. Hepatic granulomas have been associated with interferon therapy for hepatitis C and other disorders, but only one patient in the study had received interferon. Granulomas sometimes can develop in intravenous drug users from talc in the injection solution, but examination of the biopsies with polarized light revealed only one patient with crystalloid particles.

The authors concluded that granulomas are an uncommon part of the histologic spectrum of chronic hepatitis C. When granulomas are found in the liver of a patient with chronic hepatitis C, the clinician should be comfortable with the association after other pertinent diseases are excluded.

A reviewer felt this paper is a very good retrospective examination of characteristics associated with hepatogranulomas, with the added strength of the prospective surveillance.
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Reference: Snyder N, Martinez JG, Xiao SY. Chronic hepatitis C is a commonly associated with hepatic granulomas. World J Gastroenterol 2008; 14(41): 6366-6369
http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/14/6366.asp Telephone: +1-409-7721501 Fax: +1-409-7724789

Correspondence to: Ned Snyder, MD, 301 University, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology,Galveston, Texas 77555-0764, United States. nesnyder@utmb.edu

About World Journal of Gastroenterology

World Journal of Gastroenterology (WJG), a leading international journal in gastroenterology and hepatology, has established a reputation for publishing first class research on esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, liver cancer, viral hepatitis, colorectal cancer, and H pylori infection and provides a forum for both clinicians and scientists. WJG has been indexed and abstracted in Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, Science Citation Index Expanded (also known as SciSearch) and Journal Citation Reports/Science Edition, Index Medicus, MEDLINE and PubMed, Chemical Abstracts, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, Abstracts Journals, Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology and Hepatology, CAB Abstracts and Global Health. ISI JCR 2003-2000 IF: 3.318, 2.532, 1.445 and 0.993. WJG is a weekly journal published by WJG Press. The publication dates are the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th day of every month. WJG is supported by The National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 30224801 and No. 30424812, and was founded with the name of China National Journal of New Gastroenterology on October 1, 1995, and renamed WJG on January 25, 1998.

World Journal of Gastroenterology

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