Serum ferritin is an independent predictor of histologic severity and advanced fibrosis in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Serum ferritin (SF) levels are commonly elevated in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) because of systemic inflammation, increased iron stores, or both. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between elevated SF and NAFLD severity. Demographic, clinical, histologic, laboratory, and anthropometric data were analyzed in 628 adult patients with NAFLD (age, =18 years) with biopsy-proven NAFLD and an SF measurement within 6 months of their liver biopsy. A threshold SF >1.5 × upper limit of normal (ULN) (i.e., >300 ng/mL in women and >450 ng/mL in men) was significantly associated with male sex, elevated serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, iron, transferrin-iron saturation, iron stain grade, and decreased platelets (P < 0.01). Histologic features of NAFLD were more severe among patients with SF >1.5 × ULN, including steatosis, fibrosis, hepatocellular ballooning, and diagnosis of NASH (P < 0.026). On multiple regression analysis, SF >1.5 × ULN was independently associated with advanced hepatic fibrosis (odds ratio [OR], 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05-2.62; P = 0.028) and increased NAFLD Activity Score (NAS) (OR, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.06-3.75; P = 0.033). Conclusions: A SF >1.5 × ULN is associated with hepatic iron deposition, a diagnosis of NASH, and worsened histologic activity and is an independent predictor of advanced hepatic fibrosis among patients with NAFLD. Furthermore, elevated SF is independently associated with higher NAS, even among patients without hepatic iron deposition. We conclude that SF is useful to identify NAFLD patients at risk for NASH and advanced fibrosis. (Hepatology 2012).

Hepatite B

Determinants of spontaneous surface antigen loss in hepatitis B e antigen–negative patients with a low viral load

Loss of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) usually indicates the cure of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. In spontaneous hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconverters, lower serum HBsAg and HBV DNA levels have been shown to be associated with HBsAg loss over time. However, little is known about their impacts on HBsAg loss in HBeAg-negative patients with limited viral replication. A total of 688 HBeAg-negative patients with baseline serum HBV DNA levels <2000 IU/mL were enrolled in Taiwan. The relationships of HBsAg and HBV DNA levels with subsequent HBsAg loss were investigated. In a mean follow-up of 11.6 years, the average annual rate of HBsAg loss was 1.6%. Baseline HBsAg and HBV DNA levels were inversely associated with subsequent HBsAg loss. When compared to patients who had HBsAg levels >1000 IU/mL, the rates of HBsAg loss were significantly higher in patients with HBsAg levels of 100-999, 10-99, and <10 IU/mL, with hazard ratios of 2.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6-4.0), 2.8 (95% CI, 1.6-5.0), and 13.2 (95% CI, 8.1-21.5), respectively. Multivariate analysis showed that HBsAg level, but not HBV DNA, remained as an independent factor. The adjusted hazard ratio of HBsAg loss was 13.2 (95% CI, 7.8-22.1) for HBsAg level <10 versus =1000 IU/mL. When compared to HBV DNA level by receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, HBsAg level served as a better predictor of both 5-year and 10-year HBsAg loss. Conclusion: In HBeAg-negative patients with HBV genotype B or C infection who have HBV DNA level <2000 IU/mL, HBsAg level <10 IU/mL is the strongest predictor of HBsAg loss. (Hepatology 2012;55:68–76).


Comparison of eight diagnostic algorithms for liver fibrosis in hepatitis C: new algorithms are more precise and entirely noninvasive

The sequential algorithm for fibrosis evaluation (SAFE) and the Bordeaux algorithm (BA), which cross-check FibroTest with the aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index (APRI) or FibroScan, are very accurate but provide only a binary diagnosis of significant fibrosis (SAFE or BA for Metavir F = 2) or cirrhosis (SAFE or BA for F4). Therefore, in clinical practice, physicians have to apply the algorithm for F = 2, and then, when needed, the algorithm for F4 (“successive algorithms”). We aimed to evaluate successive SAFE, successive BA, and a new, noninvasive, detailed classification of fibrosis. The study included 1785 patients with chronic hepatitis C, liver biopsy, blood fibrosis tests, and FibroScan (the latter in 729 patients). The most accurate synchronous combination of FibroScan with a blood test (FibroMeter) provided a new detailed (six classes) classification (FM+FS). Successive SAFE had a significantly (P < 10-3) lower diagnostic accuracy (87.3%) than individual SAFE for F = 2 (94.6%) or SAFE for F4 (89.5%), and required significantly more biopsies (70.8% versus 64.0% or 6.4%, respectively, P < 10-3). Similarly, successive BA had significantly (P = 10-3) lower diagnostic accuracy (84.7%) than individual BA for F = 2 (88.3%) or BA for F4 (94.2%), and required significantly more biopsies (49.8% versus 34.6% or 24.6%, respectively, P < 10-3). The diagnostic accuracy of the FM+FS classification (86.7%) was not significantly different from those of successive SAFE or BA. However, this new classification required no biopsy. Conclusion: SAFE and BA for significant fibrosis or cirrhosis are very accurate. However, their successive use induces a significant decrease in diagnostic accuracy and a significant increase in required liver biopsy. A new fibrosis classification that synchronously combines two fibrosis tests was as accurate as successive SAFE or BA, while providing an entirely noninvasive (0% liver biopsy) and more precise (six versus two or three fibrosis classes) fibrosis diagnosis. (Hepatology 2012;55:58–67).

Ribavirin rather than PEG-interferon pharmacodynamics predict nonresponse to antiviral therapy in naive chronic hepatitis C patients

Twenty to fifty per cent of patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) experience nonresponse to current antiviral therapy, which may relate in part to ribavirin or PEG-interferon pharmacodynamics. We evaluated potential relevance of various factors for nonresponse. Two hundred forty-two naive CHC patients who received in a previous trial at least 24 weeks of antiviral therapy, including PEG-interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin, were analysed. Of them, 53% were infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1–4, 71% exhibited high viral load and 32% had severe fibrosis/cirrhosis. After 24 weeks of treatment, 39 patients (16%) were nonresponders. In multivariate analysis, lower serum ribavirin concentrations, HCV genotype 1–4 and higher baseline ?-GT predicted nonresponse. Week-24 ribavirin concentrations (2.2 vs 2.8 mg/L, P < 0.001), average ribavirin doses (14.5 vs 15.2 mg/kg per day, P = 0.03) and week-24 haemoglobin decreases (1.7 vs 2.0 mm, P = 0.02) were lower in nonresponders. Nonresponse rates increased progressively at decreasing ribavirin concentrations: 4%, 11%, 13% and 36% in case of serum ribavirin concentrations =4, 3–4, 2–3 and =2 mg/L, respectively (P = 0.001). Ribavirin concentrations correlated with both week-24 haemoglobin decreases (r = 0.42, P < 0.001) and ribavirin doses (r = 0.17, P = 0.01). Subgroup analysis in HCV genotype 1–4 patients revealed essentially the same results. Nonresponse was exceptional in HCV genotype 2–3 patients and associated with ribavirin concentrations <2 mg/L. Presumed interferon-related factors (average PEG-interferon doses and decreases in leucocytes, granulocytes, platelets and body weight) did not differ between nonresponders and responders. In conclusion, ribavirin- rather than PEG-interferon-related factors are independent and potentially modifiable predictors of nonresponse in treatment-naive CHC patients. (JOURNAL OF VIRAL HEPATITIS).

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