Source Department of Gastroenterology, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, South Korea Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University College of Medicine, Chuncheon, South Korea Department of Internal Medicine, CHA University College of Medicine, Sungnam, South Korea Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic University College of Medicine, Suwon, South Korea Department of Pathology, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, South Korea Department of Pathology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.
Background: Reports on the usefulness of serum markers for predicting liver necroinflammation are limited. The aim of this study was to determine the serum markers that predict significant inflammation in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and C (CHC) and normal or mildly elevated serum aminotransferase levels.
Methods: Two hundred twenty-seven patients with CHB or CHC with normal or mildly elevated serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels (≤60 IU/L) were enrolled in this study. Significant inflammation was defined as inflammatory grade ≥3 activities using the Batt-Ludwig scoring system. The correlation between liver histology and serum markers of liver inflammation was analysed.
Results: Forty-eight (21.1%) and eight patients (3.5%) had grade 3 and 4 inflammation respectively. Univariate analysis revealed that age, platelet coun, and AST, ALT, γ-glutamyl transpeptidase, alkaline phosphatase, hyaluronic acid, haptoglobin, apolipoprotein A1 and procollagen III N-terminal peptide levels were significantly different between the patients with and without significant inflammation. There were no significant differences in the cytokeratin-18 fragment levels between the two groups. On the basis of multivariate analysis, the AST and apolipoprotein A1 levels and stage of fibrosis were highly predictive of significant inflammation. Using AST and apolipoprotein cut-off values ≥44 IU/L and ≤100 ng/ml, respectively, the presence of significant inflammation was predicted with high specificity (96.5%) and with a negative predictive value of 76.3%.
Conclusion: The AST and apolipoprotein A1 levels were shown to be independent predictors of significant inflammatory activities in patients with CHB and CHC and normal or mildly elevated aminotransferase levels.