Hepatitis C virus, total antibodies (anti-HCV)
Why this test?
- For the diagnosis of viral hepatitis C.
- For differential diagnosis of hepatitis.
- To detect previously transmitted viral hepatitis C.
In what cases is it prescribed?
- With symptoms of viral hepatitis and an increase in the level of liver transaminases.
- If it is known about transferred hepatitis of unspecified etiology.
- When examining people from the risk group for infection with viral hepatitis C.
- During screening examinations.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an RNA-containing virus from the Flaviviridae family that infects liver cells and causes hepatitis. It is able to reproduce in blood cells (neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages, B-lymphocytes) and is associated with the development of cryoglobulinemia, Sjögren's disease and B-cell lymphoproliferative diseases.
Among all causative agents of viral hepatitis, HCV has the largest number of variations, and due to its high mutational activity, it is able to avoid the protective mechanisms of the human immune system. There are 6 genotypes and many subtypes of the virus, which have different meanings for the prognosis of the disease and the effectiveness of antiviral therapy.
The main way of transmission of infection is through blood (during transfusion of blood and plasma elements, transplantation of donor organs, through non-sterile syringes, needles, instruments for tattooing, piercing). Possible transmission of the virus during sexual contact and from mother to child during childbirth, but this happens less often.
Acute viral hepatitis is usually asymptomatic and remains undetected in most cases. Only 15% of infected people have an acute disease, with nausea, body aches, lack of appetite and weight loss, rarely accompanied by jaundice. 60-85% of those infected develop a chronic infection, which is 15 times higher than the frequency of chronicity in hepatitis B.
Chronic viral hepatitis C is characterized by "wavelikeness" with an increase in liver enzymes and weakly expressed symptoms. In 20-30% of patients, the disease leads to liver cirrhosis, increasing the risk of developing liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. Specific immunoglobulins are produced for the core of the virus (nucleocapsid protein core), the envelope of the virus (nucleoprotein E1-E2) and fragments of the genome of the hepatitis C virus (non-structural NS proteins). In most HCV patients, the first antibodies appear 1-3 months after infection, but sometimes they may be absent in the blood for more than a year. In 5% of cases, antibodies to the virus are never detected.
At the same time, HGC will be indicated by the detection of total antibodies to antigens of the hepatitis C virus. In the acute period of the disease, IgM and IgG antibodies to the core nucleocapsid protein are formed.
During the latent course of the infection and during its reactivation, antibodies of the IgG class are present in the blood to non-structural NS proteins and core nucleocapsid protein. After an infection, specific immunoglobulins circulate in the blood for 8-10 years with a gradual decrease in concentration or are stored forever in very low titers. They do not protect against viral infection and do not reduce the risk of re-infection and development of the disease.