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Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2009 Jan;15(1):11-4. doi: 10.4103/1319-3767.45047.

Morphometric analysis of hepatic steatosis in chronic hepatitis C infection.

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  • 1Department of Histopathology, Army Medical College, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.



To quantitatively assess steatosis by a morphometric method and to study its relationship with other histological features of chronic hepatitis C (CHC). This was a comparative descriptive study. The study was carried out in the Department of Histopathology, Army Medical College, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, from March 2006 to March 2007.


Patients who had undergone a liver biopsy for the evaluation of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection were included in the study. Demographic characteristics and laboratory data were collected at the time of biopsy. The first hundred biopsy specimens that met the inclusion criteria were assessed for grades of steatosis (semiquantitatively), diameter of fat globules (by a morphometric method), necroinflammation, and fibrosis (semiquantitatively). Liver biopsies were processed for paraffin embedding, stained with hematoxylin and eosin, whereas Gomori's Reticulin stain was used for the evaluation of fibrosis.


Out of 46 cases showing fatty change, pansteatosis was observed in 24 (52%) patients: 12 (26%) cases had a pericentral and mid zonal distribution of fat globules and eight (17.5%) cases revealed a mid zonal pattern only. There were two (4.5%) cases in which fat globules were found in periportal and mid zonal areas. None of the histological parameters (the stage of fibrosis and grades of inflammation) had any significant correlation with these distribution patterns of steatosis. The diameter of fat droplets was quantified by morphometry. A mixed pattern of steatosis was observed more frequently (21 out of 46 cases): 17 cases had microglobules and eight biopsies showed macroglobules. The size of the fat globules exhibited a significant correlation with the stage of fibrosis (P < 0.0001). The analysis of the grades of necroinflammation did not reveal any significant relationship with the diameter of fat globules.


A mixed pattern of fat globules is more frequently observed in CHC, but macrovesicular steatosis is associated with a higher stage of fibrosis. Morphometry is recommended as one of the important tools for the follow-up of HCV-infected patients. Whether an accurate assessment of fat globule size by morphometry is preferred for the evaluation of patients before and after the antiviral therapy needs further research.


Chronic hepatitis C; fibrosis; morphometry; steatosis

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