Aim: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) proteins can activate the PI3K/Akt pathway which is involved in multiple cellular functions such as inflammatory cell activation and liver fibrosis. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the correlation between Akt expression and liver fibrosis staging in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients.
Methods: Paraffin-embedded liver sections from 133 consecutive treatment-naïve CHC patients were recruited. The expression features of Akt were analyzed using immunohistochemical methods and the results were compared with histological, virological and biochemical profiles.
Results: The 73 patients with high Akt expression carried higher histological activity index scores (6.52 ± 2.5 vs 5.62 ± 2.4, P = 0.04) and advanced fibrosis (72.7% vs 26.3%, P < 0.01) than other 60 patients with low Akt expression. The high Akt expression showed a significant incremental trend dependent on fibrosis stages, from 33.3% of F0 to 85.7% of F4 (P = 0.005). Akt expression was not correlated with degrees of steatosis and virological features of HCV infection, such as viral load and genotypes. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed advanced fibrosis was the most significant factor associated with high Akt expression (odds ratio = 3.16).
Conclusion: Hepatic Akt expression correlated with advanced liver fibrosis in CHC patients.