Because a close relationship has been established between mixed cryoglobulinemia and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, the clinical, histologic, and virologic findings of 31 patients affected by mixed cryoglobulinemia have been determined. HCV infection was investigated by the presence of anti-HCV antibodies and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the 52 untranslated region (52UTR), and the genotype of HCV was also determined according to Okamoto et al (J Gen Virol 73:673, 1992). A bone marrow (BM) biopsy was performed in all patients, and liver and kidney biopsies were performed when indicated. The prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies was high (83.9%); polymerase chain reaction amplification of the 52 untranslated region was positive in 26 subjects (83.9%), and Core region amplification in 26 of 27 subjects (96.2%). A high prevalence of genotype II was found (76.6%). Chronic liver disease was present in 15 (48%) patients. BM biopsy specimens showed the presence of low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphomas in 12 cases (38.7%), whereas, in 11 patients (35.5%), the BM infiltration was not monoclonal (reactive). Mixed cryoglobulinemia is closely associated with HCV infection. Apparently, only 1 patient was not infected by the virus. Several HCV genotypes are involved in the pathogenesis of mixed cryoglobulinemia. The disease is associated with a high prevalence of low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.

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