AIMS/MATERIAL: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotyping was performed in 213 anti-HCV-positive patients with chronic liver disease ranging from minimal histological changes to hepatocellular carcinoma. One hundred and twenty-two patients had non-cirrhotic chronic active or persistent hepatitis (including 29 who were asymptomatic with persistently normal ALT levels) (chronic liver disease group). The other 91 had hepatocellular carcinoma and, in all but three cases, cirrhosis (hepatocellular carcinoma group).
Results: The overall prevalence of HCV variants was: 54.9% type 1b, 37.8% type 2, 2.5% type 1a, 2.0% type 3a, 2.0% type 4a. The genotype distribution showed no relation to the stage (chronic liver disease vs. hepatocellular carcinoma) or severity (chronic active vs. chronic persistent hepatitis) of the liver disease, or to the duration of the disease (<10 years vs. >10 years). Within the hepatocellular carcinoma group, the duration of type-1b disease was similar to that of type-2 infections. Ages at the time of infection and genotype were both independently associated with progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, but multivariate analysis revealed that the effect of age was much stronger than that of genotype 1b.
Conclusions: The predominance of HCV type 1b in this study reflects the higher frequency of this variant in our area. Our findings indicate that infections caused by each HCV genotype are capable of progressing to hepatocellular carcinoma.