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Fat Index Associated With Liver Damage in Hep C Patients

Last Updated: December 09, 2010.

The visceral adiposity index, a score that combines body mass index, waist circumference, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein levels, is associated with liver damage and viral load in patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C, according to a study in the November issue of Hepatology.

THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The visceral adiposity index (VAI), a score that combines body mass index, waist circumference, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein levels, is associated with liver damage and viral load in patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C (G1 CHC), according to a study in the November issue of Hepatology.

Salvatore Petta, M.D., of the University of Palermo in Italy, and colleagues performed liver biopsies on 236 patients with G1 CHC and conducted examinations to assess for steatosis, evidence of liver damage (such as necroinflammatory activity and fibrosis), and viral loads. The researchers also conducted metabolic and anthropometric tests and computed each subject's VAI.

The researchers found that VAI scores were independently associated with homeostasis model assessment score, hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA levels, necroinflammatory activity, and steatosis. Also, in regression analyses, insulin resistance, higher VAI score, and fibrosis all were associated with moderate to severe steatosis, while older age, higher VAI score, and fibrosis were independently associated with steatosis of at least 30 percent, and older age, higher VAI score, and fibrosis were independently related to moderate to severe necroinflammatory activity.

"In conclusion, VAI, a new index of both fat function and distribution, appears to be independently associated with steatosis and necroinflammatory activity in G1 CHC patients and has a direct correlation with HCV viral load. These data suggest a direct role of adipose tissue in liver damage and a possible interference of HCV with adipocyte function. Experimental studies are needed to determine the mechanisms responsible for these associations," the authors write.

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