Background: Hepatic steatosis has been associated with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), but its prevalence, risk factors, and clinical significance remain to be determined.
Aims: The present study determined the frequency of, and risk factors for hepatic steatosis and its association with activity and progression of CHC in a large cohort of U.S. patients.
Methods: This is a retrospective study that utilized systematic chart review and statistical analyzes to investigate 324 U.S. patients with CHC from a university medical center and a regional VA medical center.
Results: The frequency of hepatic steatosis was 66.0%. We demonstrated that not only being obese, but also overweight (i.e. body mass index > or =25 kg/m(2)) was independently associated with hepatic steatosis. In our cohort of patients with CHC, hepatic steatosis, especially grade II/III steatosis, was significantly associated with elevated aspartate aminotransferase at entry, persistently elevated alanine aminotransferase, and stage III/IV fibrosis. Grade II/III steatosis, was significantly associated with a higher histology activity index as well. Multivariate analysis indicated that steatosis, especially grade II/III steatosis, was independently associated with stage III/IV fibrosis.
Conclusions: Being overweight/obese serves as an independent risk factor for hepatic steatosis in U.S. patients with CHC. Steatosis accelerates activity and progression of CHC, and is independently associated with stage III/IV hepatic fibrosis in these patients.