The significance of platelet microparticles in patients with chronic hepatitis C and their association with antiviral treatment and smoking

Authors Theoni Kanellopoulou, Alexandra Alexopoulou, Flora N. Kontopidou, Polidoros Konstantinides, George V. Papatheodoridis.


Background Platelet microparticles (PMPs) are platelet-derived membrane vesicles involved in cardiovascular diseases and atherosclerosis. Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is associated with increased atherosclerosis, but the effect of therapy on its atherogenic potential has not been adequately studied.

Methods We evaluated PMP levels before and after treatment with pegylated-interferon-alfa and ribavirin in 28 CHC patients compared with 20 non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients and 20 healthy volunteers (HV).

Results Twenty-four (86%) CHC patients achieved sustained virological response (SVR). PMP levels were determined at baseline in CHC, NAFLD patients, and HV, and at end-of-treatment (EOT) and 24 weeks post-treatment (SVR24) in CHC patients. PMP levels at baseline were higher in CHC than NAFLD patients (P<0.001) and HV (P=0.007). Higher PMPs at baseline were observed in smokers than non-smokers with CHC (P=0.006). Among smokers from all groups, PMPs at baseline were higher in CHC than NAFLD patients (P=0.001) and HV (P=0.024). In CHC patients, PMPs declined from baseline to both EOT (P=0.035) and SVR24 (P=0.006). Only CHC patients with SVR had a significant decline in PMPs from baseline to SVR24 (P=0.018). PMPs at ΕΟΤ and SVR24 in all CHC patients were similar to PMPs in NAFLD patients and HV.

Conclusions PMP levels are increased in CHC patients, particularly smokers, which further supports the atherosclerotic potential of CHC and suggests a potentially synergistic effect of smoking and CHC on the atherosclerotic process. Since PMP levels in CHC patients with SVR were similar to NAFLD patients and HV, the atherosclerotic potential of CHC seems to be abolished by effective antiviral treatment.

Keywords Atherosclerosis, hepatitis C, interferon, platelet microparticles, smoking

Ann Gastroenterol 2016; 29 (2): 201-207


Original Articles