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J Viral Hepat. 2012 Feb;19(2):e143-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2011.01531.x. Epub 2011 Oct 30.

Fibrosis progression under maintenance interferon in hepatitis C is better detected by blood test than liver morphometry.

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Liver-Gastroenterology Department, University Hospital, Angers, France.


We evaluated whether quantitative measurements of liver fibrosis with recently developed diagnostics outperform histological staging in detecting natural or interferon-induced changes. We compared Metavir staging, morphometry (area and fractal dimension) and six blood tests in 157 patients with chronic hepatitis C from two trials testing maintenance interferon for 96 weeks. Paired liver biopsies and blood tests were available for 101 patients, and there was a significant improvement in Metavir activity and a significant increase in blood tests reflecting fibrosis quantity in patients treated with interferon when compared with controls - all per cent changes in histological fibrosis measures were significantly increased in F1 vs F2-4 stages only in the interferon group. For the whole population studied between weeks 0 and 96, there was significant progression only in the area of fibrosis (AOF) (P = 0.026), FibroMeter (P = 0.020) and CirrhoMeter (P = 0.003). With regards to dynamic reproducibility, agreement was good (r(ic) ≥ 0.72) only for Metavir fibrosis score, FibroMeter and CirrhoMeter. The per cent change in AOF was significantly higher than that of fractal dimension (P = 0.003) or Metavir fibrosis score (P = 0.015). CirrhoMeter was the only blood test with a change significantly higher than that of AOF (P = 0.039). AOF and two blood tests, reflecting fibrosis quantity, have high sensitivity and/or reproducibility permitting the detection of a small progression in liver fibrosis over two years. A blood test reflecting fibrosis quantity is more sensitive and reproducible than morphometry. The study also shows that maintenance interferon does not improve fibrosis, whatever its stage.

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