Background/aims: Steatosis could be the result of HCV (hepatitis C virus)-induced hypobetalipoproteinemia in patients with chronic hepatitis C. The aim of this study was to assess serum levels of main constituents of betalipoproteins and their relationship with steatosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C without known risk factors for steatosis.
Patients: One-hundred male patients with untreated biopsy proven non-cirrhotic chronic hepatitis C were included. Twenty-nine of these patients were further treated with interferon.
Results: Cholesterol concentration was significantly lower in patients compared to three control groups: reference male population, patients with chronic hepatitis B or with non-alcoholic fatty liver. In multivariate analysis, low apolipoprotein B concentration was an independent factor related with the degree of steatosis. Hypobetalipoproteinemia and degree of steatosis were significantly associated with infection with genotype 3. Among treated patients, only sustained virological responders had a significant increase of cholesterol (5.6 +/- 1 vs. 4.7 +/- 1.3 mmol/l; P = 0.03) and apolipoprotein B concentrations (113 +/- 19 vs. 75 +/- 14 mg/dl; P = 0.05).
Conclusion: In chronic hepatitis C, hypobetalipoproteinemia is prevalent and associated with steatosis, especially in patients infected with genotype 3. The correction of hypobetalipoproteinemia following HCV eradication suggests that HCV itself could induce hypobetalipoproteinemia and steatosis.