High body mass index is an independent risk factor for nonresponse to antiviral treatment in chronic hepatitis C

Hepatology. 2003 Sep;38(3):639-44. doi: 10.1053/jhep.2003.50350.


The aim of this study was to determine if body mass index (BMI) was an independent predictor of response to antiviral treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C. A retrospective review was performed of all patients at a single center with chronic hepatitis C treated with antiviral medication from 1989 to 2000. A sustained response was defined as either negative hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA by polymerase chain reaction and/or normal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level (only in those treated before availability of HCV RNA testing) 6 months following completion of therapy. All patients were classified into one of 3 groups according to BMI (normal, <25 kg/m(2); overweight, 25-30 kg/m(2); obese, >30 kg/m(2)). A total of 253 patients were treated with either interferon (IFN) monotherapy or IFN in combination with ribavirin. Patients were excluded if predetermined clinical characteristics were unavailable. Using logistic regression, and after adjusting for the examined variables (age, sex, history of alcohol consumption >50 g/d, cirrhosis on pretreatment biopsy, and BMI), likelihood ratio tests showed significant differences in response to treatment according to BMI group (P =.01), genotype (P <.01), and cirrhosis (P <.01). Those with genotypes 2 or 3 had an odds ratio (OR) for success of 11.7 compared with those with genotype 1, cirrhotic patients had an OR of 0.15 compared with noncirrhotic patients, and obese patients had an OR of 0.23 compared with normal and overweight patients. Hepatic steatosis was not an independent risk factor for response to antiviral treatment. In conclusion, obesity, only when defined as a BMI greater than 30 kg/m(2), is an independent (of genotype and cirrhosis) negative predictor of response to hepatitis C treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / pathology*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Interferons / therapeutic use*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Failure


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ribavirin
  • Interferons