Patients with transfusion-dependent thalassemia major often develop liver fibrosis due to liver iron overload and/or hepatitis virus C (HCV) infection. Hyaluronic acid (HA) plays a prominent role in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis and the elevation of serum HA concentration is due to either increased synthesis by inflammatory cells and hepatic stellate cells or impaired degradation by sinusoidal endothelial cells (SECs) and thus is proposed as a non-invasive biomarker of liver fibrosis either by itself and/or included in the Hepascore formula. In this study we evaluated prospectively a screening of liver fibrosis in 201 adult patients aged 19-54 years with transfusion-dependent thalassemia major, based on HA measurements. 41/201 patients were HCV-RNA (+). HA was measured with a turbidimetric assay applied on a clinical chemistry analyzer. The Hepascore was computed from the results by using the model previously published. The main results of the study showed that: a) HA levels were increased in 110/201 (55%) thalassemia patients 85.0 ± 10.3 ng/ml, ranged from 15.0 to 1495.0 μg/l, compared to 20.8 ± 7.4 μg/l reference laboratory values, p<0.001, b) HA levels were significantly higher in HCV-RNA(+) compared to HCV-RNA(-) patients, 171.6 ± 202 vs 53.8 ± 35.5 μg/l, p<0.0001 c) no significant correlations were found between HA levels and/or Hepascore with ferritin and liver iron content (LIC) assessed with MRI (p>0.324 and p>0.270, respectively). Our findings indicate that hyaluronic acid measurements contribute to the assessment of liver fibrosis in patients with thalassemia and might be helpful for further evaluation of patients with liver biopsy if this is truly needed. Furthermore, liver fibrosis in thalassemia seems to be independent from liver siderosis.
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