Antibody to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) in patients who are negative for HCV RNA in serum may indicate a memory of past infection of HCV. However, their clinical features have not been well understood. Fourteen anti-HCV-positive but HCV RNA-negative individuals were examined for serological and histological features. As a result, it was found that they had only antibody to HCV core antigen C22-3 with or without antibody to nonstructural viral antigen C33c on a recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA), and that an concentration of anti-C22 was low. Liver biopsy showed two having no evidence of an obvious hepatic injury, two having a minimal change, and two having portal fibrosis. HCV RNA was not found in the liver. These results corroborate an idea that the anti-HCV in HCV RNA-negative individuals implies a past infection of HCV. Furthermore, it is suggested that a combination of an appearance pattern of antibody to HCV antigens on RIBA and anti-C22 titer are an useful marker to distinguish anti-HCV-positive individuals without viremia from those with viremia.
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