Source Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Institute of Nutrition, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 122 Aureliano Pimentel Street, 21931-300, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with oxidative stress and vitamin A possesses antioxidant activity. The objective of the present study was to investigate vitamin A nutritional status in chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), according to biochemical, functional and dietetic indicators correlating these findings with liver function, liver damage and death.
Vitamin A nutritional status was analysed by serum retinol levels, dietetic indicators and functional indicators. A total of 140 patients with HCV-related liver disease were enrolled. Vitamin A deficiency was detected in 54•3 % of all patients, and there was a progressive drop in serum retinol levels from chronic hepatitis C patients towards cirrhosis and HCC patients. Increased total bilirubin, liver transaminases and prothrombin time, presence of hepatic encephalopathy and ascites were related to reduced serum retinol levels, and values ≤ 0•78 μmol/l of serum retinol were associated with liver-related death. A high prevalence of inadequate intake of vitamin A was observed in all stages of chronic liver disease. The functional indicator was not an adequate parameter for evaluating the vitamin A nutritional status.
Therefore, serum retinol concentration is related to severity of the disease, liver complications and mortality. The effectiveness of nutritional counselling and measures of intervention in this group in improving vitamin A nutritional status should be examined further in a controlled study.