Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Background : Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with the appearance of liver steatosis.Aim : To search for a correlation between the number of HCV infected hepatocytes and the presence, amount and distribution of steatosis.Methods : A total of 124 frozen liver biopsies from HCV patients (genotype 3 = 21) were studied. HCV-antigens were detected on frozen liver sections using a four steps immunoperoxidase technique. Steatosis was graded by haematoxilin-eosin counterstaining on a serial section.Results : Steatosis was detected in 82 of 124 (66.1%) patients without differences between different genotypes. Uric acid, body mass index, γGT levels significantly correlated with steatosis in non-3 (P 〈 0.01, P 〈 0.05, P 〈 0.01, respectively) but not in genotype 3 patients. HCV-antigens were detected in 95 of 124 (76.6%) cases. A positive correlation between steatosis and the number of infected hepatocytes was observed only in genotype 3 patients (P = 0.06). In most cases the number of cells with steatosis greatly outnumbered that of HCV infected cells.Conclusion : We confirm a possible role of the virus in the genesis of steatosis in HCV genotype 3 infected patients; however, as steatosis do not appear to be directly related to the presence of HCV-antigens within single hepatocytes, an indirect, possibly cytokine mediated, mechanism might be operative.
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