Aim: An association between diabetes mellitus and HCV has been recognized previously. No study has examined whether there is an independent association between the degree of hepatic fibrosis and the incidence of diabetes in HCV patients when controlling for other risk factors.
Methods: We reviewed the charts of 264 consecutive patients with chronic HCV infection at a referral liver centre from January 1991 to December 1999. Demographic background, medical history, laboratory and liver biopsy results were retrieved.
Results: The prevalence of diabetes was 16.3%. Gender, intravenous drug use, steatosis scores, aminotransferase levels and iron studies were similarly distributed in patients with and without diabetes (all p > 0.05). In contrast, mean age was greater in the diabetic group (49.8 vs. 44.3, p = 0.003). The prevalence of diabetes was substantially higher in African-Americans (p = 0.001) and those with BMI > 30 (p = 0.015). Although the fibrosis score was higher in diabetics (rho = 0.14, p = 0.03), that association did not remain significant when controlling for diabetes risk factors (p > 0.3). The degree of steatosis and fibrosis both tended to increase with increasing BMI (rho = 0.47, p < 0.001 and rho = 0.13, p = 0.03, respectively). Even after controlling for diabetes, age, gender, race, and current alcohol use, those associations remained (both p < 0.001).
Conclusions: The prevalence of diabetes in our group of HCV patients was high, consistent with other studies. Diabetes is not an independent predictor of degree of fibrosis. Body mass index is an independent predictor of both fibrosis and steatosis in HCV patients.