European journal of gastroenterology & hepatology vol:18 issue:12 pages:1311-1319
Coinfection with other hepatitis viruses modifies the viral profile in serum and leads to more liver damage and more rapid progression during the course of hepatitis C virus infection. The viral interference is not only carried out by virus-virus or by virus-cell interactions but also by an enhanced immune response. A superinfecting viral infection does not crossactivate protective immune responses to the pre-existing virus albeit the latter can become undetectable. The induced cytokine stimulation might enhance the hepatic inflammation. Moreover, hepatitis B virus coinfection increases the risk of development of hepatocellular carcinoma in hepatitis C virus patients through common necro-inflammatory pathways or by direct oncogenic activity of hepatitis B virus. Viral interaction also complicates the management of the coinfection because hepatitis C virus impairs the humoral response to hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus vaccines, and because pharmacological suppression of hepatitis C virus endangers dually infected patients with reactivation of coinfected hepatitis B virus. Optimized strategies and follow-up are thus necessary in the treatment of infection with multiple viruses. It seems thus necessary to look for markers of hepatitis B virus and/or hepatitis D virus infection in chronic hepatitis patients positive for hepatitis C virus antibodies but negative for hepatitis C virus RNA, and equally well to search for hepatitis C virus RNA in HBsAg-negative/anti-HBc-positive patients with a low level of serum hepatitis B virus DNA.