Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Life Sciences, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan ; Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major global health problem. A few risk calculators have been developed using mainly HBV seromarkers as predictors. However, serum HBV DNA level, HBV genotype, and mutants are not routinely checked in regular health examinations. This study aimed to assess the predictability of HCC risk in chronic hepatitis B patients, using a combination of liver-related seromarkers combined with or without HBV seromarkers.
A prospective cohort of 1,822 anti-HCV-seronegative chronic HBV carriers was included in this study. Liver-related seromarkers including aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), total bilirubin, total protein, albumin, serum globulins, apolipoprotein A1, and apolipoprotein B were examined. Hazard ratios of HCC with 95% confidence intervals were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression models. Regression coefficients of seromarkers significantly associated with HCC risk in multivariate analyses were used to create integer risk scores. The predictability of various risk models were assessed by area under receiver operating characteristic curves (AUROCs).
During a median follow-up of 5.9 years, 48 newly-developed HCC cases were ascertained. Elevated serum levels of ALT (≥28 U/L), AFP (≥5 ng/mL), and GGT (≥41 U/L), an increased AST/ALT ratio (AAR, ≥1), and lowered serum levels of albumin (≤4.1 g/dL) and alpha-1 globulin (≤0.2 g/dL) were significantly associated with an increased HCC risk (P<0.05) in multivariate analysis. The risk model incorporating age, gender, AAR, and serum levels of ALT, AFP, GGT, albumin, and alpha-1 globulin had an AUROC of 0.89 for predicting 6-year HCC incidence. The AUROC was 0.91 after the addition of HBV seromarkers into the model, and 0.83 for the model without liver-related seromarkers, with the exception of ALT.
Liver-related seromarkers may be combined into useful risk models for predicting HBV-related HCC risk.