Division of Gastroenterology, Maggiore Hospital and University School of Medicine, Milan - Italy.
Background: Hepatitis C virus infection is associated with a variety of extrahepatic disorders such as membrano-proliferative glomerulonephritis, which is generally due to cryoglobulinemia.
Setting: We describe the case of one liver transplant recipient who received antiviral therapy (subcutaneous administration of peg-IFN-alpha-2a 180 mcg weekly and oral ribavirin 200 mg thrice a day)
for HCV-related membrano-proliferative glomerulonephritis. He presented normal kidney function, non-nephrotic proteinuria (2 g/24 h) and mild hematuria.
Results: Urinary abnormalities disappeared within a few weeks after the initiation of antiviral therapy; however, combination antiviral therapy was not able to obtain viral clearance. After 11 months, IFN-therapy was interrupted and the patient continued low-dose ribavirin monotherapy (200 mg once per day) for one additional year- remission of proteinuria (<0.3 g/24 h) and hematuria persisted with intact kidney function. Although other mechanisms cannot be excluded, we suggest that ribavirin therapy was critically implicated in the remission of urinary abnormalities in our patient. The existing literature on the association between HCV-associated glomerulonephritis and therapy with ribavirin is reviewed.
Conclusions: Antiviral therapy may be effective in patients with HCV-induced glomerulonephritis. Further evidence is needed to evaluate efficacy and safety of ribavirin monotherapy for HCV-related glomerulonephritis.