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The impact of antiviral therapy for HCV on kidney disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis



Controversy persists about the role of hepatitis C as a risk factor for developing kidney disease in the general population. Some authors have evaluated the effect of antiviral therapy for HCV on the risk of kidney disease.

Study aims and design

A systematic review of the published medical literature was performed to assess whether antiviral therapy for HCV has an independent impact on kidney survival in the adult general population. A random effects model was used to generate an overall estimate of the risk of kidney disease after anti-HCV therapy across the published studies. Meta-regression and stratified analysis were also carried out.


Fifteen studies were eligible (n=356, 285 patients) and separate meta-analyses were conducted according to the outcome. Pooling studies based on viral responses (n=7; 34,763 individual patients) demonstrated a relationship between sustained viral response and lower frequency of kidney disease; the overall estimate for adjusted risk of kidney disease was 2.50 (95% CI, 1.41; 4.41) (p=0.0016) and between-study heterogeneity was found (p-value by Q test=0.004). Aggregation of studies comparing treated vs untreated cohorts (n=8, n=333,312 patients) revealed an association between anti-HCV therapy and lower risk of kidney disease. The overall estimate for adjusted risk of kidney disease across the eight studies was 0.39 (95% CI, 0.25; 0.612) (p=0.0001). Meta-regression showed that the effectiveness of antiviral therapy in reducing the frequency of kidney disease diminishes as cirrhosis (p=0.02) and HBV infection (p=0.0001) increase among HCV-infected individuals.


Antiviral therapy for HCV lowers the risk of kidney disease among HCV-infected individuals. Studies to understand the mechanisms underlying this association are ongoing.

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