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Med Klin (Munich). 2000 Nov 15;95(11):603-7.

[Liver histology in hepatitis C: correlation with different biochemical and virological parameters].

[Article in German]

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin I, Universitätsklinikum, D-93042 Regensburg.



According to the German consensus statement, the indication for treatment of HCV-RNA-positive chronic hepatitis C is not derived from histopathology but from elevated aminotransferases. The indication for liver biopsy has been discussed controversely. This study aimed at investigating the correlation between different biochemical and virological parameters and histological scores of inflammation and fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C.


In a retrospective study, data of 126 patients with chronic hepatitis C who had undergone liver biopsy between January 1994 and March 1998 were analyzed. Histology was interpreted according to a defined numerical score of inflammation and fibrosis by a single pathologist. Scores of fibrosis and inflammation were correlated with biochemical and virological parameters.


Inflammatory grading showed a moderate but significant correlation with ALT (r = 0.33, p < 0.001), whereas staging of fibrosis did not correlate with ALT (r = 0.15). There was no association between grading or staging and HCV genotype (n = 110) or serum viral load (n = 57). Grading and staging showed a significant association with each other (p < 0.0001).


Aminotransferases as "surrogate markers" reflect more or less the histological inflammatory activity but do not allow any estimation of the extent of fibrosis. Some patients may have a high inflammatory activity with low aminotransferases or high aminotransferases with low inflammatory activity. Virological parameters such as HCV genotype or viral load do not allow an estimation of histological findings. If prior to treatment of chronic hepatitis C liver biopsy is omitted and the decision for treatment depends solely on the measurement of surrogate markers, considerable misjudgement of the actual status of liver inflammation or fibrosis may result.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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