Aim: Although liver biopsy has long been considered the gold standard for staging fibrosis, because of the disadvantages and risks of biopsy, several noninvasive processes such as serum biomarkers have been introduced for the assessment of liver fibrosis. The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic value of serum procollagen C-proteinase enhancer 1 (PCPE-1) as a noninvasive fibrosis marker in treatment-naive chronic hepatitis B patients.
Patients and methods: This study included 126 patients with biopsy-proven hepatitis B and 50 healthy controls. Fibrosis stage was determined using the Ishak scoring system. The PCPE-1 level was measured using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay assay, and the aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index and the FIB-4 index were calculated using the formulas described in Appendix 1 (Supplemental digital content 1, http://links.lww.com/EJGH/A277).
Results: Serum PCPE-1 levels of chronic hepatitis B patients were found to be significantly lower than those of the healthy control group (4.49±2.74 vs. 42.9±59.6 pg/ml, respectively, P<0.001). There was a statistically significant negative correlation between serum PCPE-1 level and fibrosis stage (P=0.011; r=-0.226). A statistically significant negative correlation was found between serum PCPE-1 level and necroinflammatory activity (P=0.030; r=-0.194). PCPE-1 levels of patients with liver fibrosis scores of F1-2 were statistically significantly lower than those of the healthy control group (P<0.001) (area under the receiver operating characteristic: 0.955). The area under the receiver operating characteristic of the PCPE-1 level was 0.615 for the prediction of fibrosis (F0 vs. F1-6) (P=0.039).
Conclusion: Serum PCPE-1 might be used as a noninvasive marker of liver fibrosis. Further animal and human studies are needed to assess the utility of this marker.