Obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in chronic hepatitis C

Zobair M Younossi, Arthur J McCullough, Janus P Ong, David S Barnes, Anthony Post, Anthony Tavill, Diane Bringman, Lisa M Martin, Jennifer Assmann, Terry Gramlich, Kevin D Mullen, Robert O'Shea, William D Carey, Roy Ferguson
Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 2004, 38 (8): 705-9

BACKGROUND: Superimposed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) may affect HCV-related fibrosis. We performed a study to determine the relationship between NAFLD and chronic hepatitis C.

METHODS: One hundred and twenty patients with chronic hepatitis C and available liver biopsies were included. Baseline liver biopsies were read by 1 hepatopathologist using Metavir, as well as a fatty liver pathology protocol. Patients' baseline clinical, demographic, and virologic data were associated with the extent of steatosis (>33% vs. < or =33%), the type of fatty liver (no steatosis vs. steatosis only vs. NASH), and the stage of fibrosis seen on the liver biopsy.

RESULTS: Seventy percent of patients were men and 80% were white. The mean age was 47.48+/-5.70 years, mean BMI was 29.01 +/-5.01 kg/m, and mean waist to hip ratio (W/H) was 0.90+/-0.08. Patients with higher grade of steatosis had higher BMI (32.83+/-6.26 vs. 28.49+/-4.62, P = 0.034), more likely to have genotype 3 (21.4% vs. 5.7%, P = 0.037) and advanced fibrosis (92.9% vs. 62.3%, P = 0.033) than those with lower grade of steatosis. Of these, only HCV-genotype 3 remained independently associated with higher grade of steatosis. When patients with superimposed NASH (n = 22) were compared with those with only steatosis (n = 49) and those without steatosis (n = 49), patients with superimposed NASH had more evidence of obesity (BMI: 30.64+/-5.23 vs. 29.90+/-5.35 vs. 27.33+/-4.07, P = 0.008; W/H: 0.97+/-0.06 vs. 0.91+/-0.08 vs. 0.87+/-0.07, P < 0.001), more commonly infected with HCV genotype 3 (14% vs. 12% vs. 0%, P = 0.036) and had more advanced fibrosis (95.5% vs. 75.5% vs. 42.9%, P < 0.001). Race, gender, and age did not affect extent of steatosis or presence of superimposed NASH.

CONCLUSION: In conclusion, markers of obesity (BMI and W/H) and HCV genotype 3 are associated with the extent of steatosis and type of fatty liver. Higher grade of steatosis and presence of superimposed NASH are both associated with advanced hepatic fibrosis.

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