Comparison in the Progression of Liver Fibrosis in HCV Patients with Normal and Elevated Transaminase (ALT)
Detectable serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in HCV patients with persistently normal alanine transaminase (PNALT) has been found to be associated with significant liver damage.
The primary objective of the current study conducted at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco was to compare the histological progression of fibrosis in patients with PNALT and elevated alanine transaminase (ALT).
Forty patients with PNALT (Group 1) and 41 patients with elevated ALT (Group 2) were recruited into this study. Only patients with fibrosis of F0 to F2 were recruited into this study.
The median time to second liver biopsies was 6.3 (range 2.0-11.1) years. Nine patients (22.5%) in Group 1 and 17 patients (41.5%) from Group 2 had progression of fibrosis. There was a trend towards a significantly higher cumulative probability of fibrosis progression in Group 2 (P=0.06). In patients with an initial F0 to F1 fibrosis, there was a significant difference in cumulative probability of fibrosis progression between Groups 1 and 2 (22.6% (7/31) vs. 43.3% (13/31), respectively, P=0.02).
Conclusions: Chronic HCV patients with PNALT with an initial fibrosis of F0 or F1 were less likely to develop progression of fibrosis than those with elevated ALT, although patients with PNALT may have histologically and clinically progressive disease.
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