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Hepatogastroenterology. 1998 Sep-Oct;45(23):1678-83.

Factors associated with severity and disease progression in chronic hepatitis C.

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First Department of Medicine, Western Attica General Hospital, Athens, Greece.



Chronic hepatitis C appears to have a highly variable natural course with 20% of patients developing cirrhosis within 20 years, while the majority of them run a relatively mild course. We studied the relationships of epidemiological, biochemical and virological features with histological severity (grade) and liver disease progression (stage).


Liver histology, serum HCV RNA level and HCV genotype were determined in a well-defined cohort of 152 consecutive (100 males, 52 females) patients with chronic hepatitis C.


Patients with minimal or mild chronic hepatitis were significantly younger than those with moderate or severe chronic hepatitis (mean age: 41.1 vs 49.5 years respectively, p=0.003). On the other hand, patients with no or mild fibrosis compared to those with moderate or severe fibrosis and to those with cirrhosis were significantly more frequently males (73%, 64% and 43%, p=0.01), parenteral drug users (36%, 11% and 11%, p=0.01) and infected with other than 1b genotype (86%, 52% and 33%, p<0.0001), significantly younger (mean age: 37, 48 and 58 years, p<0.0001) and had significantly lower HCV RNA levels (geometric mean: 6.9, 19.2 and 17.5 x 10(5) eq/ml, p=0.007). Multivariate analysis showed that stage was significantly related only to patient age (p<0.0001), HCV genotype (p=0.0025) and HCV RNA level (p=0.044).


In chronic hepatitis C, histological severity seems to be associated only with patient age, while progression of the disease is mainly associated with patient age, HCV genotype and viremia level.

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