Sex-specific changes in triglyceride profiles in liver cirrhosis and hepatitis C virus infection

Lipids Health Dis. 2022 Oct 24;21(1):106. doi: 10.1186/s12944-022-01715-w.


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with serum lipid abnormalities, which partly normalize following direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy. Here, associations of serum triglycerides (TGs) with viral genotype and markers of liver disease severity were evaluated in patients with chronic HCV. METHODS: The study included the serum of 177 patients with chronic HCV. TGs were quantified by flow injection analysis Fourier transform mass spectrometry. Laboratory values and noninvasive scores for liver fibrosis assessment were determined. The nonparametric Kruskal‒Wallis test, one-way ANOVA, multiple linear regression and Student's t test were used as appropriate. P values were adjusted for multiple comparisons.

Results: HCV-infected women had lower serum TGs than men, and thus, a sex-specific analysis was performed. None of the 46 TG species analyzed differed in the serum of female patients with and without liver cirrhosis. In contrast, in the serum of male patients with liver cirrhosis, TGs with 53, 56 and 58 carbon atoms and three to eight double bonds were diminished. These polyunsaturated TGs were also low in males with a high fibrosis-4 score. TGs with 7 or 8 double bonds negatively correlated with the model of end-stage liver disease score in males. In addition, TGs with 49, 51 and 53 carbon atoms were reduced in male patients infected with genotype 3a in comparison to genotype 1a. TGs with 56 carbon atoms were lower in genotype 3a-infected males than in genotype 1b-infected males. TGs did not differ in females by genotype. Genotype 3-related changes disappeared at the end of therapy with DAAs. Overall, the levels of serum TGs did not change during DAA therapy in either sex. Consequently, the serum TGs of males with liver cirrhosis were lower than those of males without cirrhosis at the end of therapy. Such a difference was not apparent in females.

Conclusions: The decline in TGs observed only in male patients with liver cirrhosis and male patients infected with genotype 3 illustrates sex-specific changes in lipid metabolism in chronic HCV.

Keywords: Direct acting antivirals; Fibrosis-4 score; Genotype; Liver cirrhosis; Polyunsaturated triglycerides.

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carbon / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepatitis C*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Male
  • Triglycerides


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Triglycerides
  • Carbon