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J Hepatol. 2006 Oct;45(4):592-9. Epub 2006 Jun 16.

Diagnostic and predictive factors of significant liver fibrosis and minimal lesions in patients with persistent unexplained elevated transaminases. A prospective multicenter study.

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Service d'Hépato-Gastroentérologie, Hôpital du Haut-Lévêque, Pessac, France.



In patients with unexplained elevated transaminases, prognosis of the liver disease and factors associated with increased risk of liver fibrosis and normal/subnormal liver are unknown. The aim of this prospective study was to identify diagnosis and clinical and biological factors associated with significant (bridging) fibrosis and minimal lesions of the liver in patients with persistent unexplained elevated ALT levels.


From July 2002 through October 2004, all consecutive asymptomatic patients with unexplained chronically elevated ALT levels were included. All patients had clinical, biological, ultrasonographic examination and a liver biopsy.


272 patients (60.3% males, mean age 46.4 years, BMI 26.7) were included. Pathological findings were: minimal lesions (18.7%), steatosis (26.8%), NASH (32.7%), and miscellaneous (21.7%). Significant fibrosis was found in 27.4% of cases, including 9 cases of cirrhosis. By multivariate analysis, independent predictors of significant fibrosis were tobacco use (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.34-4.74 p=0.04), BMI>25 (2.49, 1.31-4.73 p=0.005) and diabetes (4.41, 1.73-11.29 p=0.002). Independent factors associated with minimal lesions were female gender (OR 3.4 95% CI 1.73-6.75 p<0.0001) and BMI<25 (3.55, 1.8-6.98, p<0.0001).


In patients with unexplained chronically elevated transaminases, significant fibrosis is statistically associated with tobacco use, BMI>25 and diabetes, and minimal lesions are significantly associated with female gender and BMI<25.

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