Glucose intolerance and hypoadiponectinemia are already present in lean patients with chronic hepatitis C infected with genotype non-3 viruses

Rodolphe Anty, Eve Gelsi, Jean Giudicelli, Eugenia Mariné-Barjoan, Philippe Gual, Sylvia Benzaken, Marie-Christine Saint-Paul, Jean Louis Sadoul, Pierre Michel Huet, Albert Tran
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2007, 19 (8): 671-7

OBJECTIVES: Steatosis and metabolic abnormalities seem to be frequent and deleterious in chronic hepatitis C. Changes in glucose homeostasis and in adiponectin levels, an adipokine with anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitive properties, were evaluated in patients with chronic hepatitis C according to steatosis, liver fibrosis and body mass index.

METHODS: Seventy-three patients with chronic hepatitis C (40 men, 33 women) infected with genotypes non-3 and 22 healthy controls (11 men and 11 women) were included in the study and all had a biochemical evaluation, including metabolic parameters, adiponectin measurement, and a liver biopsy. Insulin sensitivity was assessed with the HOMA 1-IR insulin resistance model.

RESULTS: Steatosis was found in 65.7% of the patients and significant fibrosis (METAVIR F2-F4) was present in 28.7%. The presence of steatosis could only be predicted by fibrosis, whereas significant fibrosis could be predicted by steatosis and age. Adiponectin levels were significantly decreased (-32%) with the severity of the steatosis. Although overweight chronic hepatitis C patients (body mass index>or=25 kg/m2) had insulin resistance and hypoadiponectinemia, lean chronic hepatitis C patients (body mass index<25 kg/m2) had already significantly higher glycemia and lower adiponectin levels than in controls.

CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms the high incidence of steatosis in patients infected by hepatitis C virus genotypes non-3, well linked to the development of fibrosis and metabolic abnormalities. Importantly, the present findings put emphasis on the early development of these metabolic abnormalities as they were already found in lean patients with chronic hepatitis C. The direct implication of hepatitis C virus is thus further stressed in the development of steatosis and insulin resistance, with or without involvement of host factors.

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