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Volume 2012, Article ID 128382, 11 pages
Review Article

Hepatitis C Virus, Cryoglobulinemia, and Kidney: Novel Evidence

Division of Nephrology and Dialysis, Maggiore Hospital and IRCCS Foundation, Pad. Croff, Via Commenda 15, 20122 Milano, Italy

Received 11 June 2012; Accepted 26 June 2012

Academic Editors: I. Shoji and W. Vogel

Copyright © 2012 Fabrizio Fabrizi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hepatitis C virus infection can lead to chronic active hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure; however, it is also associated with a wide range of extra-hepatic complications. HCV is associated with a large spectrum of histopathological lesions in both native and transplanted kidneys, and it is increasingly recognized as an instigator of B cell lympho-proliferative disorders including mixed cryoglobulinemia. Mixed cyoglobulinemia is a systemic vasculitis primarily mediated by immune complexes; it is characterized by variable organ involvement including skin lesions, chronic hepatitis, glomerulonephritis, peripheral neuropathy, and arthralgias. The most frequent HCV-associated nephropathy is type I membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, usually in the context of type II mixed cryoglobulinemia. Various approaches have been tried for the treatment of HCV-related glomerulonephritis, including immunosuppressive therapy (corticosteroids and cytotoxic agents), plasma exchange and antiviral agents. Data on the antiviral treatment of HCV-associated glomerulonephritis are not abundant but encouraging results have been provided. Immunosuppressive therapy is particularly recommended for cryoglobulinemic kidney disease. Recent evidence has been accumulated on rituximab therapy for HCV-related cryoglobulinemic glomerulonephritis exists but several questions related to its use remain unclear. Distinct approaches should be considered for the treatment of HCV-associated cryoglobulinemic glomerulonephritis according to the level of proteinuria and kidney failure.