The aims of this study were to assess the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Japanese patients with oral lichen planus and identify the impact of amino acid (aa) substitutions in the HCV core region and IFN-sensitivity-determining region (ISDR) of nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A) associated with lichen planus.
In this retrospective study, 59 patients (group 1-A) with oral lichen planus among 226 consecutive patients who visited our hospital and 85 individuals (group 1-B, controls) with normal oral mucosa were investigated for the presence of liver disease and HCV infection. Risk factors for the presence of oral lichen planus were assessed by logistic regression analysis. We compared aa substitutions in the HCV core region (70 and/or 91) and ISDR of NS5A of 12 patients with oral lichen planus (group 2-A) and 7 patients who did not have oral lichen planus (group 2-B) among patients (high viral loads, genotype 1b) who received interferon (IFN) therapy in group1-A.
The prevalence of anti-HCV and HCV RNA was 67.80% (40/59) and 59.32% (35/59), respectively, in group 1-A and 31.76% (27/85) and 16.47% (14/85), respectively, in group 1-B. The prevalence of anti-HCV (P < 0.0001) and HCV RNA (P < 0.0001) in group 1-A was significantly higher than those in group 1-B. According to multivariate analysis, three factors - positivity for HCV RNA, low albumin level (< 4.0 g/dL), and history of smoking - were associated with the development of oral lichen planus. The adjusted odds ratios for these three factors were 6.58, 3.53 and 2.58, respectively, and each was statistically significant. No significant differences in viral factors, such as aa substitutions in the core region and ISDR of NS5A, were detected between the two groups (groups 2-A and -B).
We observed a high prevalence of HCV infection in patients with oral lichen planus. Longstanding HCV infection, hypoalbuminemia, and smoking were significant risk factors for the presence of oral lichen planus in patients. It is advisable for Japanese patients with lichen planus to be tested for HCV infection during medical examination.