Both hepatitis C virus and Chlamydia pneumoniae infection are related to the progression of carotid atherosclerosis in patients undergoing lipid lowering therapy.

Yasunori Sawayama, Kyoko Okada, Shinji Maeda, Hachiro Ohnishi, Norihiro Furusyo, Jun Hayashi

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Recent experimental and epidemiological findings suggest that infectious agents may play a role in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. We previously reported that Chlamydia pneumoniae (C. pneumoniae) infection reduces the effectiveness of lipid-lowering therapy for carotid atherosclerosis and that this micro-organism may play a role in the progression of atherosclerosis. In this study, we investigated the possible association between hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and carotid arteriosclerosis. A total of 165 asymptomatic hypercholesterolemic patients were randomized to receive probucol (500 mg/day, n=82) or pravastatin (10 mg/day, n=83) and were followed for 2 years. The 2-year change of the maximum common carotid artery intima-media thickness (Max-IMT) was the primary endpoint, while the Max-IMT and the incidence of major cardiovascular events were secondary endpoint. All serum samples were tested for antibody to HCV (anti-HCV) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and all anti-HCV-positive samples were assayed for HCV RNA. Patients without HCV infection (n=25) showed a significant reduction of Max-IMT (-10.9%) (p<0.0001), while a small decrease of Max-IMT was noted in the patients with HCV infection (n=25) (-0. 3%). Significant differences in the reduction of serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were found between patients with and without HCV infection (both p<0.0001). No significant difference in therapeutic effect was noted between the probucol and the pravastatin groups. After adjustment for confounding risk factors, both C. pneumoniae infection and anti-HCV positivity were associated with a greater risk of an increase in Max-IMT (8.5635 [1.3738-15.7532], p<0.05, 9.5040 [0.2886-18.7194], p<0.05, respectively). These findings suggest that both chronic HCV infection and C. pneumoniae infection can reduce the effectiveness of lipid-lowering therapy for carotid atherosclerosis, and that the HCV may play a role in the progression of atherosclerosis in HCV infected patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
JournalFukuoka igaku zasshi = Hukuoka acta medica
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2006


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

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