Pathology, Universidade Federal de São Paulo , São Paulo , Brazil.
Abstract Background. In chronic liver diseases of different etiologies, including viral hepatitis, genotoxic effects of oxidative stress have been shown, both in clinical and in experimental conditions, suggesting that this mechanism may contribute to the evolution of the disease. Aim. To evaluate DNA damage in the peripheral blood of untreated non-diabetic patients with chronic hepatitis C and control subjects, and its correlation with demographic, anthropometric, biochemical, and histological parameters in the patient sample. Patients and methods. This study comprised 100 subjects of both genders, 60 of whom were treatment-naïve patients with positive serology for genotype 1 hepatitis C. The remaining 40 were blood donors with negative serology for hepatitis who were used as control subjects, and matched by gender, age, weight, and BMI. DNA damage was determined using the comet assay in the total peripheral blood. Results. The DNA damage evaluated by the comet assay revealed higher values in the group of patients with hepatitis compared with that in the control group. The relationships of the comet assay with the studied variables were assessed using multivariate analysis; significant correlations were only identified with insulin (r = 0.343, p = 0.008) and Homeostasis Model Assessment Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) (r = 0.331, p = 0.011). Conclusion. Patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C have higher rates of DNA damage, as determined by comet assay and this alteration is correlated with the HOMA index of insulin resistance.