The progression of liver fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C has long been considered to be independent from viral genotypes. However, recent studies suggest an association between Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 3 and accelerated liver disease progression. We completed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating the association between HCV genotypes and fibrosis progression. PubMed, Embase and ISI Web of Knowledge databases were searched for cohort, cross-sectional and case-control studies on treatment-naïve HCV-infected adults in which liver fibrosis progression rate (FPR) was assessed by the ratio of fibrosis stage in one single biopsy to the duration of infection (single-biopsy studies) or from the change in fibrosis stage between two biopsies (paired biopsies studies). A random effect model was used to derive FPR among different HCV genotypes. Eight single-biopsy studies (3182 patients, mean/median duration of infection ranging from 9 to 21 years) and eight paired biopsies studies (mean interval between biopsies 2-12 years) met the selection criteria. The odds ratio for the association of genotype 3 with accelerated fibrosis progression was 1.52 (95% CI 1.12-2.07, P = 0.007) in single-biopsy studies and 1.37 (95% CI 0.87-2.17, P = 0.17) in paired biopsy studies. In conclusion, viral genotype 3 was associated with faster fibrosis progression in single-biopsy studies. This observation may have important consequences on the clinical management of genotype 3-infected patients. The association was not significant in paired biopsies studies, although the latter may be limited by important indication bias, short observation time and small sample size.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.