Objective: The natural course of chronic hepatitis C varies widely. To improve the profiling of patients at risk of developing advanced liver disease, we assessed the relative contribution of factors for liver fibrosis progression in hepatitis C.
Design: We analysed 1461 patients with chronic hepatitis C with an estimated date of infection and at least one liver biopsy. Risk factors for accelerated fibrosis progression rate (FPR), defined as ≥ 0.13 Metavir fibrosis units per year, were identified by logistic regression. Examined factors included age at infection, sex, route of infection, HCV genotype, body mass index (BMI), significant alcohol drinking (≥ 20 g/day for ≥ 5 years), HIV coinfection and diabetes. In a subgroup of 575 patients, we assessed the impact of single nucleotide polymorphisms previously associated with fibrosis progression in genome-wide association studies. Results were expressed as attributable fraction (AF) of risk for accelerated FPR.
Results: Age at infection (AF 28.7%), sex (AF 8.2%), route of infection (AF 16.5%) and HCV genotype (AF 7.9%) contributed to accelerated FPR in the Swiss Hepatitis C Cohort Study, whereas significant alcohol drinking, anti-HIV, diabetes and BMI did not. In genotyped patients, variants at rs9380516 (TULP1), rs738409 (PNPLA3), rs4374383 (MERTK) (AF 19.2%) and rs910049 (major histocompatibility complex region) significantly added to the risk of accelerated FPR. Results were replicated in three additional independent cohorts, and a meta-analysis confirmed the role of age at infection, sex, route of infection, HCV genotype, rs738409, rs4374383 and rs910049 in accelerating FPR.
Conclusions: Most factors accelerating liver fibrosis progression in chronic hepatitis C are unmodifiable.
Keywords: CIRRHOSIS; FIBROSIS; HEPATITIS C.
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