Department of Medicine, Surgery, Neurology, Geriatric & Metabolic Disease, Second University of Naples, Internal Medicine of Clinic Hospital of Marcianise, ASL Caserta, Italy.
Steatosis is a complication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and the mechanisms of its development are complex, involving viral and host factors. Steatosis that is prevalently viral is associated with HCV genotype 3, and steatosis that is prevalently metabolic is associated with non-3 genotypes. Viral steatosis is correlated with the level of HCV replication, whereas metabolic steatosis is related to insulin resistance. The two types of steatosis have a different impact on HCV disease and may have an additive effect. HCV infection is a multifaceted disease with hepatic and extrahepatic manifestations. There is a body of evidence indicating that HCV-related steatosis plays a role in many HCV manifestations and, thus, the presence of steatosis is a predictive factor for the development of such events. The current data show that HCV-related steatosis predicts an advanced liver disease and a more rapid progression of fibrosis, as well as an increased risk of development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Moreover, the presence of steatosis in a HCV patient has a high predictive value that the subject may have or may develop insulin resistance, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Recently, a strict association between HCV-related steatosis and development of atherosclerosis has been demonstrated. In addition, steatosis negatively impacts response rate to interferon-based treatment, even in HCV genotype-3 infection. Therapeutic strategies to improve steatosis and, consequently, response to standard antiviral therapy and outcome of disease are wanted. The authors summarize current knowledge of impact of steatosis on the above reported clinical conditions associated with HCV infection.