Objectives: To investigate whether patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection without evidence of cirrhosis have an increased risk of diabetes mellitus (DM) and to evaluate possible risk factors for diabetes in this group.
Patients and methods: We conducted a case-control study of 45 consecutive eligible patients with HCV infection and no clinical, scintigraphic, or histological evidence of cirrhosis, and a control group of 90 subjects without liver disease matched by age, sex, and body mass index and similar in their origin distribution. Eighty-eight patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection with no evidence of cirrhosis were also evaluated. The diagnosis of diabetes was based on the 1997 American Diabetes Association criteria.
Results: Fifteen patients (33%) with HCV infection were found to have type 2 diabetes compared with 5.6% in the control group without liver disease (P < .001) and 12% in the group with HBV infection (P = .004). Comparison of the patients with and without diabetes revealed that positive family history of diabetes, HCV 1b genotype, and a more severe liver histology were significantly associated with DM.
Conclusions: Patients with chronic HCV infection have an increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes, and this prevalence is independent of cirrhosis. The pathogenesis is intriguing, appears to be unique to HCV, and requires further study.