Aim: Interferon (IFN) dramatically reduces the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after a sustained virological response (SVR) to chronic hepatitis C (CH-C). However, HCC still develops in some patients after SVR. To evaluate metabolic factors in patients with HCC occurring after SVR and to determine whether insulin resistance and adipocytokines were involved in this etiology.
Methods: We examined clinical and biochemical features, histological findings and serum levels of adipocytokine prior to IFN therapy and at the detection of HCC in nine patients who were diagnosed with HCC. As controls, 27 patients were included who showed SVR but had not been diagnosed with HCC for at least 5 years after SVR.
Results: Three of four patients who developed HCC within 5 years after SVR showed liver cirrhosis when HCC was diagnosed. Prior to IFN therapy, four of nine HCC patients were diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes mellitus. Serum levels of leptin and insulin, Homeostatic Model of Assessment of Insulin Resistance and body mass index (BMI) were significantly higher and serum adiponectin was significantly lower in HCC patients at the time of HCC detection than in control patients more than 5 years after SVR. Six HCC patients had increased BMI and one HCC patient had a decreased BMI during the observation period.
Conclusion: Hepatic fibrosis may be tightly related to the emergence of HCC after SVR. Insulin resistance and adipocytokine disorders may be implicated in hepatocarcinogenesis after SVR, in part by promoting hepatic fibrosis.