The neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are likely caused by the body’s response to the virus’ effects on brain function, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis. This neuro-inflammatory and systemic response is akin to that observed in patients with autoimmune diseases of the liver.
This study included 33 controls and 132 participants, 46 of whom had HCV, 22 who had hepatitis B virus (HBV), 27 who had autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), 29 who had primary biliary cholangitis(PBC), and 8 who had AIH and PBC. A thorough neuropsychological assessment was administered to 88 participants.
Among all groups, scores on fatigue, depression, and anxiety were significantly higher than scores for controls, while mental scores on the Short Form-36 were significantly lower. Participants with HCV showed more pronounced fatigue than those with HBV and lower SF-36 scores than those with HBV but not than those with PBC and AIH. Word-learning was poorer among AIH, PBC, and HCV groups (but not HBV) compared with controls.
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