Zinc is essential for the activation of approximately 300 metallo-enzymes. Serum and hepatic zinc is decreased in chronic liver disease patients, and zinc depletion has been suggested to accelerate liver fibrosis. The study was designed to assess Zinc status in chronic HCV Egyptian patients and its relationship to fibrosis stage diagnosed by FibroScan. This was a cross-sectional study on 297 Egyptian patients with naïve chronic HCV. All patients underwent laboratory tests (including assessment of serum Zinc) and liver stiffness measurement (LSM) by Transient Elastography (FibroScan®). The study included 170 (57.2%) females and 127 (42.8%) males with a mean age 52.4 ± 10.2 years. Most of the patients had zinc deficiency as the mean zinc level was 55.5 ± 30.7 μg/dl. The FibroScan scores showed that 97 patients had mild to moderate fibrosis (≤F2), while 200 patients had advanced to severe fibrosis (˃F2). Zinc level was significantly lower in patients with ˃F2 than those with ≤F2 (52 ± 30.7 vs 62.5 ± 29.7, p value: 0.005), as the zinc values decreased with the progression of liver fibrosis. Serum zinc level had a negative significant correlation with INR and negative significant correlation with FibroScan score but no correlation to bilirubin, ALT, AST, or albumin. Most of Egyptian chronic liver disease patients had zinc deficiency. Zinc level gets significantly lower with progression of fibrosis. Zinc supplementation is essential before and during antiviral therapy for HCV.
Keywords: Chronic HCV; Liver fibrosis; Serum zinc deficiency.