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Hepatology. 2008 Sep;48(3):723-31. doi: 10.1002/hep.22392.

Genotype-specific interactions of insulin resistance, steatosis, and fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C.

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Storr Liver Unit, Westmead Millennium Institute and Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.


The interaction between insulin resistance (IR), steatosis and genotype to fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has not been comprehensively assessed. We hypothesized that IR is a key mediator for the development of both steatosis and fibrosis in 346 untreated, nondiabetic patients solely infected with either genotype 1 or 3. We examined for genotype-specific interactions between IR, steatosis and fibrosis by performing subgroup analyses. Because cirrhosis is known to cause IR, we repeated the analysis in a cohort of 313 noncirrhotic HCV-infected patients. We confirmed the impact of IR on fibrosis by analysis of 153 lean subjects in whom any effect of steatosis would be minimized. In HCV genotype 3 patients, increased steatosis was linked to high viral load (P = 0.001), and was not associated with fibrosis (P = 0.1). In contrast, body mass index (P = 0.04) and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (P = 0.01) contributed directly to steatosis in HCV genotype 1. HOMA-IR rather than steatosis was independently associated with fibrosis for both HCV genotype 1 (OR, 3.22; P = 0.02) and genotype 3 (OR, 3.17; P = 0.04). Exclusion of cirrhotic subjects did not alter the findings with respect to the greater contribution of IR compared to hepatic steatosis, as a predictor of fibrosis (P = 0.02). Genotype-specific subgroup analyses did not alter this finding. The extent of HOMA-IR remained significantly associated with fibrosis in lean patients, independent of the confounding effect of body mass index on IR (OR, 8.02; P = 0.003).


IR is a major independent determinant of fibrosis in chronic HCV infection, regardless of the genotype and the severity of liver damage.

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