Hepatitis Awareness Month 2016: Hepatitis C Parkinson’s disease link, rheumatoid arthritis, and liver inflammation

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, which mainly focuses on the different types of hepatitis including hepatitis C, but we have compiled a list of our news stories discussing hepatitis alongside other conditions like Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and liver inflammation.

Hepatitis B and C are lifelong conditions that increase your risk of health complications, including liver cancer. May 19 has specifically been designated as a hepatitis day of testing in the U.S. to remind healthcare providers and the public to get tested, especially if they are at a higher risk.


Below are some articles that examine hepatitis and other related topics like how hepatitis increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, how hepatitis is linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, and how hepatitis C infection can cause rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few.

Hepatitis C infectionHepatitis C infection increases risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, and liver damage

Hepatitis C infection increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, and liver damage. Hepatitis C infection can severely damage the liver, but new findings from Johns Hopkins revealed that it can also mean dangers for the heart as well.

The findings came from a large ongoing study of men who had sex with men, but not all were infected with HIV. The men were followed to observe progression and risk of disease. A subgroup of the men had both HIV and hepatitis C, two conditions that are commonly seen together.

The men with HIV already had an increased risk of heart disease, but the researchers were interested to examine whether hepatitis C could lead to the same risks.

The researchers found that those with hepatitis C were more likely to have abnormal fat and calcium plaques in their arteries – atherosclerosis – which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Principal investigator Eric Seaberg said, “We have strong reason to believe that infection with hepatitis C fuels cardiovascular disease, independent of HIV, and sets the stage for subsequent cardiovascular trouble. We believe our findings are relevant to anyone infected with hepatitis C, regardless of HIV status.”

Although the researchers are unsure how or why hepatitis C infection increases plaque buildups in the arteries, they stress that those patients with hepatitis C should be closely monitored for heart disease risk factors.

Study author Wendy Post said, “People infected with hepatitis C are already followed regularly for signs of liver disease, but our findings suggest clinicians who care for them should also assess their overall cardiac risk profile regularly.” She added that these patients would benefit from annual cardiac testing and evaluation and have their lifestyle habits assessed. They could be putting their hearts at greater risk, for instance, if they are eating poorly and are sedentary. Continue reading…

Hepatitis CHepatitis C linked to Parkinson’s disease risk

A new study has found that hepatitis C may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological degenerative brain disorder and hepatitis C is a virus that negatively impacts the liver.

Study author Chia-Hung Kao said, “Many factors clearly play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease, including environmental factors. This nationwide study, using the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan, suggests that hepatitis caused specifically by the hepatitis C virus may increase the risk of developing the disease. More research is needed to investigate this link.”

The World Health Organization estimated that 130 to 150 million people worldwide have hepatitis C, which can lead to serious illness and can go undetected as it may not present itself with many symptoms at first. Continue reading…

Hepatitis C virus infection causes rheumatoid arthritisHepatitis C virus infection causes rheumatoid arthritis before HCV detection

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been found to cause rheumatoid arthritis, even before HCV is detected. Hepatitis C can contribute to liver failure, but it is also known to cause rheumatoid arthritis – inflammation of the joints. Due to the link between HCV and rheumatoid conditions, it’s important that newly diagnosed rheumatoid patients also get tested for HCV as rheumatoid conditions can still occur before HCV is even detected.

A rheumatoid disease can be caused by HCV due to a related infection. Rheumatoid diseases cause pain in the joints, muscles, and connective tissues. Joint swelling and blood vessel inflammation can occur as well. A recent study dove deeper into the connection between HCV and rheumatoid arthritis and uncovered what may link the two. Continue reading…

hepatitis liver inflammationHepatitis liver inflammation reduced by specific immune cells

Hepatitis liver inflammation may be reduced by specific immune cells. A new study from Belgium researchers reports that a specific immune cell type in the liver can dampen the immune response, reduce inflammation, and protect against liver damage.

Researchers at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium used mice to explore monocytes’ role – immune cells that help fight off infection – in combating liver inflammation. In the case of the mice, the researchers focused on trypanosome parasites because they often lead to liver inflammation.

There are two types of monocytes: Ly6c positive monocytes and Ly6c negative monocytes.
When the mice were infected with trypanosome parasites, initially more Ly6c positive monocytes travelled to the infected liver, but the Ly6c negative monocytes did follow as well.

The researchers found the Ly6c positive monocytes actually increased inflammation and promoted liver damage, while the Ly6c negative monocytes reduced the inflammation and prevented further liver damage. This goes to show that Ly6c negative monocytes can work as liver protection.

Researchers now say a means for preventing liver inflammation can result from changing Ly6c negative monocytes in the body. A therapy would either increase their number or function to protect the liver. Continue reading…

Depression and stress levels increase risk of liver disease, hepatitisDepression and stress levels increase the risk of liver disease, hepatitis

Depression, anxiety, and stress levels have been shown to increase the risk of death by liver disease. The findings come from the University of Edinburgh, and it’s the first study to identify a possible link between psychological distress and death resulting from various forms of liver disease.

The researchers are still unsure about the biological link between psychological distress and liver disease. Previous research showed a strong link between mental distress and cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, risk factors of cardiovascular disease, such as obesity and high blood pressure, are also risk factors for liver disease.


Researchers examined responses from over 165,000 people who answered questionnaires capturing psychological distress. These participants were then tracked over the course of 10 years with a strong focus on the cause of any deaths.

Those who scored high on symptoms of psychological stress were more likely to die from liver disease, compared to those with lower scores.

Research lead Dr. Tom Russ said, “This study provides further evidence for the important links between mind and body, and of the damaging effects psychological distress can have on physical wellbeing. While we are not able to confirm direct cause and effect, this study does provide evidence that requires further consideration in future studies.” Continue reading…