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Hepatology. 2015 Apr;61(4):1261-8. doi: 10.1002/hep.27654. Epub 2015 Feb 13.

High liver fibrosis index FIB-4 is highly predictive of hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic hepatitis B carriers.

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Department of Family Medicine & Health Promotion Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Screening for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is clinically important given that its early detection has remarkable survival benefits. We investigated the possible role of FIB-4, a recently developed noninvasive marker for liver fibrosis based on routine laboratory tests, as a clinical indicator for predicting future HCC among hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers. Our retrospective cohort study involved 986 Korean HBsAg carriers 40 years of age or older who visited Seoul National University Hospital for a health checkup. National medical service claims data were used to determine HCC incidence. Median follow-up time was 5.4 years (interquartile range: 4.4 years). Adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, smoking, alcohol, and antiviral medication for hepatitis B, compared to subjects with FIB-4 <1.25, subjects with 1.7≤ FIB-4 <2.4 showed an adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) of 4.57 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.50-13.92) and subjects with FIB-4 ≥2.4 showed an aHR of 21.34 (95% CI: 7.73-58.92) for HCC incidence. FIB-4 was shown to have incremental predictive value to ultrasonographic liver cirrhosis for HCC incidence (C-index: 0.701 vs. 0.831; P = 0.001). FIB-4 was also better predictive of HCC incidence, compared to that of ultrasonographic liver cirrhosis (C-index: 0.775 vs. 0.701; P = 0.040).


High FIB-4 is a highly predictive risk factor for HCC incidence among Korean HBsAg carriers. FIB-4 is a promising, easily applicable, and cost-effective clinical tool in identifying a subpopulation of HBsAg carriers who are at heightened risk. Our study needs to be replicated in larger future studies on various ethnic groups; nonetheless, our study suggests that FIB-4 may play a valuable role in HCC screening among HBsAg carriers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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