4th Department of Internal Medicine, Hippokration General Hospital of Thessaloniki, Medical School of Aristotle University, 54642 Thessaloniki, Greece.
Background. Recent data suggest that chronic hepatitis C has to be considered a metabolic disease further to a viral infection. The aim of this study was to elaborate on the complex interactions between hepatitis C virus, host metabolic factors, and treatment response. Methods. Demographic, virological, and histological data from 356 consecutive patients were analyzed retrospectively. Hepatic steatosis, obesity, and insulin resistance were examined in relation to their impact on treatment outcome. Comparison between genotype 1 and 3 patients was performed to identify differences in the determinants of hepatic steatosis. Results. Histological evidence of hepatic steatosis was found in 113 patients, distributed in 20.3%, 9.0%, and 2.5% for grades I, II, and III, respectively. Hepatic steatosis was associated with past alcohol abuse (P = 0.003) and histological evidence of advanced fibrosis (P < 0.001). Older age (OR 2.51, P = 0.002), genotype (OR 3.28, P < 0.001), cirrhosis (OR 4.23, P = 0.005), and hepatic steatosis (OR 2.48, P = 0.001) were independent predictors for nonresponse. Correlations of hepatic steatosis with alcohol, insulin resistance, and fibrosis stage were found similar for both genotypes 1 and 3. Conclusions. Host metabolic factors may predict treatment outcome, and this impact remains significant even in genotype 3, where steatosis has been believed to be exclusively virus related.