Hepatic steatosis is commonly seen in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, and the prevalence is much higher prevalence than in the general population or in patients with chronic hepatitis B. Hepatic steatosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C can be due to alcohol consumption and host metabolic factors such as high body mass index (BMI), obesity, hyperlipidemia, metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus in which insulin resistance plays an important role.
However, in genotype 3 HCV infection, hepatic steatosis can result from direct viral cytopathic effect. Demographic and clinical characteristics associated with hepatic steatosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C including older age, higher BMI, more genotype 3 infection, and higher mean serum levels of triglyceride, alanine aminotransferase and ?-glutamyl transpeptidase. The clinical relevance of hepatic steatosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C includes a close correlation with hepatic fibrosis, and a poor response to combination peginterferon and ribavirin treatment.
In addition, hepatic steatosis has been reported to associate with increased frequency of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic HCV infection. Whether life style modification such as weight reduction or adding an insulin resistance reducing agent such as metformin or thiazolidinediones combined with current standard peginterferon plus ribavirin treatment will benefit to the chronic hepatitis C patients with hepatic steatosis deserves further evaluation.