BACKGROUND/AIMS: As a preliminary study to test the possibility of oral transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV), many investigations in order to detect the extrahepatic localization of HCV have been performed. In this study, we examined the presence of HCV viral proteins in gastric mucosa. METHODS: Immunohistochemical staining to NS3 protein were done to detect the HCV virus in gastric mucosa. The results were compared with NS5a protein staining to confirm the NS3 protein staining. RESULTS: Total of 164 patient were included. 58 patients with anti-HCV (+) were designated to case group and 70 with anti-HCV (-) to control group. 36 were excluded in this study due to concomitant illness. Anti-HCV (+) group showed 50.0% (29/58) of positivity to NS3 protein staining and anti-HCV (-) group showed 12.6% (9/70) of positivity (p<0.001). Immunohistochemical staining to NS5a protein were done to validate the result of NS3 (+) staining in the anti-HCV (+) group (n=58). NS5a (+) staining were observed in 58.6% (34/58). The results of NS5a staining were consistent with that of NS3 in 70.7%. The reliability coefficients by Chronbach's Alpha for NS3 and NS5a stain test was 0.59. CONCLUSIONS: HCV can exist in gastric mucosal cell as an extrahepatic presence. In the future, this study may provide some fundamental data for the research of possible oral transmission route of HCV.
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