Hepatitis C’s Extrahepatic Complications: A Continuing Health Challenge Despite Advancements in Antiviral Therapies

Hepatitis C, a major health concern caused by the hepatitis C virus, leads to liver cancer and organ damage-related deaths. Despite advancements in antiviral therapies, a significant disease burden persists, with around one-third of patients suffering from extrahepatic manifestations like mixed cryoglobulinemia, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. These complications, which extend beyond liver-related issues, complicate treatment, impacting morbidity, quality of life, and economic costs. Although direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) have significantly improved cure rates and reduced the severity of these complications, they still remain a substantial concern.

These extrahepatic manifestations affect various organ systems, increasing mortality and healthcare costs while decreasing the quality of life. Hepatitis C primarily targets hepatocytes but can affect other tissues and organs, influencing metabolic functions and immune responses. Treatment with DAAs has significantly lowered the incidence of these complications and associated healthcare expenditures. However, about 38% of patients with chronic hepatitis C will develop at least one extrahepatic condition, highlighting the need for ongoing research and monitoring to manage and understand these complex interactions.

Reference: Songtanin B, Nugent K. Burden, Outcome, and Comorbidities of Extrahepatic Manifestations in Hepatitis C Virus Infection. Biology (Basel). 2022 Dec 22;12(1):23. doi: 10.3390/biology12010023. PMID: 36671716; PMCID: PMC9855523.

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