Background & aims: It is well known that inflammation increases liver stiffness (LS) in patients with chronic hepatitis C (HCV) and alcoholic liver disease (ALD) independent of fibrosis stage, but no inflammation-adapted cut-off values have been settled so far. An early identification of rapid fibrosers, however, is essential to decide whom to treat first with the novel but expensive antiviral drugs.
Methods: Liver stiffness, biopsy-proven fibrosis stages F0-F4 (METAVIR or Kleiner score) and routine laboratory parameters were studied in 2068 patients with HCV (n = 1391) and ALD (n = 677).
Results: Among the routine parameters for liver damage, AST correlated best with LS (HCV: r = 0.54, P < 0.0001 and ALD: r = 0.34, P < 0.0001). In the absence of elevated transaminases, cut-off values were almost identical between HCV and ALD for F1-2, F3 and F4 (HCV: 5.1, 9.0 and 11.9 kPa vs ALD: 4.9, 8.1 and 10.5 kPa). These cut-off values increased exponentially as a function of median AST level. The impact of AST on LS was higher in lobular-pronounced ALD as compared to portal tract-localized HCV. Most notably, Cohen's weighted Kappa displayed an improved agreement of the novel AST-dependent cut-off values with histological fibrosis stage both for HCV (0.68 vs 0.65) and ALD (0.80 vs 0.76).
Conclusions: The novel AST-adapted cut-off values improve non-invasive fibrosis staging in HCV and ALD and may be also applied to other liver diseases. Especially in HCV, they could help to decide whom to treat first with the novel but expensive antiviral drugs.
Keywords: alcoholic liver disease; fibrosis; hepatitis C; inflammation; liver stiffness.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.