Serum lipids and their associations with viral levels and liver disease severity in a treatment-naïve chronic hepatitis C type 1-infected cohort

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Summary.In patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, steatosis and fibrosis have been shown to be inversely associated with total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Steatosis and fibrosis have also been found to be associated with triglyceride (TG) levels; though, the direction of the relationship is inconsistent across studies. The objective of this study was to assess whether viral level and histological factors are associated with the serum lipid profile in a treatment-naïve cohort with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection. Participants were from the prospective Study of Viral Resistance to Antiviral Therapy (Virahep-C). Fasting lipid profiles were analysed for 160 African Americans and 170 Caucasian Americans. Linear regression was used to evaluate associations of each lipid with viral load and liver disease. TG levels were significantly and directly associated with HCV levels (P = 0.0034) and steatosis (P < 0.0001). Other lipid parameters were significantly lower in those with fibrosis [HDLc (P = 0.001) and TC levels (P = 0.004)] than in those without fibrosis. In patients with HCV genotype 1 infection, more severe liver disease was associated with lower lipid levels, with the exception of TG levels that were directly related to steatosis. The direct relationship between viral load and TG levels is consistent with proposed the mechanisms of very low density lipoprotein/HCV particle secretion. In contrast, the direct relationship between TG level and steatosis is inconsistent with posited mechanisms of HCV-induced steatosis, a possible reflection of HCV genotype 1 infection and a metabolic aetiology of steatosis.

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