Abstract

In a prospective study, 102 hospital patients with liver disease were evaluated in West Cameroon, Africa. Blood donors, pregnant women and patients without liver disease served as controls. A total of 757 individuals were tested for markers of hepatitis A, B, C and D and for immunological markers (autoantibodies, procollagen III, α-foetoprotein, CA50 antigen, α-1-antitrypsin and antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus types 1 and 2). One-third of the liver disease patients had focal lesions on ultrasound examination. Histologically, 20 cases of cirrhosis, 14 cases of chronic hepatitis, 15 hepatocellular carcinomas and 17 cases of acute hepatitis were detected. All hepatic patients and virtually all controls had had a previous hepatitis A virus infection. Over 85% of adult patients and controls had at least one marker of hepatitis B virus infection. Over 30% of patients with liver disease had markers of possible hepatitis B virus replication. Antihepatitis C virus antibody was present in 18% of hepatic patients and in 6% of controls. Hepatitis C virus infection seems to play an important role in the development of chronic liver pathology; 40% of cirrhotic patients had a combined hepatitis B and C virus infection, Serum autoantibodies were frequently found and were not correlated with the presence of autoimmune liver disease.

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