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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2006 Apr;33(4):300-4.

Patient age is a strong independent predictor of 13C-aminopyrine breath test results: a comparative study with histology, duplex-Doppler and a laboratory index in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection.

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  • 1Medical Department I - ZAFES, University Hospital, Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main, Germany. arne.schneider@em.uni-frankfurt.de


1. Noninvasive tests for the staging of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection would be an attractive alternative to liver biopsy. The 13C-aminopyrine breath test (ABT) has been proposed for the noninvasive assessment of hepatic function and partly correlates with fibrosis. We aimed to investigate causes for the lack of discriminatory power for different degrees of hepatic fibrosis. 2. Eighty-three patients (median age 49 years (28-78 years)) with chronic HCV infection underwent the ABT after an oral load of 75 mg N,N-dimethyl-13C-aminopyrine. Portal vein flow was assessed by duplex-Doppler and a laboratory index (aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index or APRI) was calculated. Parameters were compared with liver histology. 3. The cumulative 13C-recovery differed significantly between patients without relevant fibrosis (fibrosis score 0-2) and cirrhosis (5-6), beginning after 30 min of sampling (P < 0.05). The ABT did not discriminate patients with fibrosis scores 3-4 from the remaining two patient groups. Sensitivity and specificity for the prediction of cirrhosis was 73.4-82.8% and 63.2-68.4%, depending on the sampling time. Compared with the fibrosis score (P = 0.04), patient age was a highly significant independent predictor for the 13C-recovery (P < 0.0001). Aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index and duplex-Doppler predicted cirrhosis with 76.6%vs. 87.5% sensitivity and 63.2%vs. 68.4% specificity. 4. Our data suggest an age-dependent decrease of cytochrome P450 activity which probably accounts for the large overlap of ABT results that preclude clear differentiation. This is also consistent with former pharmacodynamic trials. Age-adapted reference ranges could improve ABT results.

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