Radiologic Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Increases the Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients With Suppressed Chronic Hepatitis B

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Background and Goals:Although nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a risk factor of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), it is unclear whether NAFLD additionally increases the risk of HCC among chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients. This study evaluated the association between NAFLD and the risk of HCC in patients whose hepatitis B virus (HBV) was well controlled.Study:This study included consecutive CHB patients whose serum HBV DNA levels were continuously suppressed <2000 IU/mL with antiviral treatment. Fatty liver was radiologically diagnosed. Patients with concomitant hepatitis C infection, autoimmune hepatitis, or excessive alcohol use were excluded.Results:Among 826 patients, 86 patients (10.4%) developed HCC during the study period (median, 43.1 mo). The patients with NAFLD (N=260) had a significantly higher risk for HCC compared with patients without NAFLD (N=566) (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.67; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-2.63; P=0.03) after adjustment for age, the presence of cirrhosis, hepatitis B envelop antigen positivity, low-level viremia and hypertension. There was significant association between incomplete biochemical response (IBR) (alanine aminotransferase levels ≥40 IU/L) and the presence of NAFLD (P<0.001 by χ2 test). IBR at the time of virological response was associated with a significantly higher risk of HCC development (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.63; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-2.54; P=0.03).Conclusions:NAFLD increases the risk of HCC in patients with CHB in whom HBV is effectively suppressed by antivirals. Patients with IBR should be suspected of concurrent NAFLD. Further study is warranted to evaluate whether improvement of NAFLD might decrease the risk of HCC development.

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