Steatosis accelerates the progression of liver damage in patients with chronic hepatitis C, according to a study reported in the February issue of Gut.
A frequent histological finding in patients with chronic hepatitis C, steatosis has long been suspected of influencing liver damage in such patients.
The researchers examined two liver biopsies obtained from each patient studied with chronic hepatitis C to determine the relationship between the evolution of steatosis and liver damage. The biopsies were taken an average of 48 months apart.
Steatosis was found in 54% of patients at first biopsy, and was severe in 9%. Worsening of steatosis was observed in 34% of patients, stability in 50% and improvement in 16%.
The researchers concluded that worsening of steatosis was significantly associated with the progression of liver damage in patients with or without steatosis at diagnosis. Overall, liver damage progression was observed in 31% of patients and stability in 69%.
"Our results suggest that in untreated patients with chronic hepatitis C and serial liver biopsies, fibrosis progression is strongly associated with worsening of steatosis," concluded the researchers.
Other sources: Gut 2003;52:288-292