[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The clinical significance of elevated serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is not well defined. We analysed data from a population-based cohort of patients with HCV infection to assess the prevalence of elevated serum AFP, to determine its association with clinical and virologic parameters and with clinical outcomes. We defined a slightly elevated serum AFP level as 8 to <15 and a high-AFP level as > or =15 microg/L. Among 541 HCV-RNA-positive persons, 61 (11%) had a slightly elevated or high AFP at the time of consent. AFP > or =8 microg/L was associated with the older age, aspartate aminotransferase/alanine aminotransferase ratio >1, and higher alkaline phosphatase levels, but not with heavy alcohol use, IV drug use, genotype, viral load or duration of HCV infection. Among 192 persons with an AFP at liver biopsy, 17% had an AFP > or =8 microg/L. The sensitivity/specificity of an AFP level > or =8 in detecting Ishak 3-6 fibrosis was 39%/95%. Among 372 persons with a minimum of four AFP measurements over 6 years, 5% had persistently elevated AFP >8 microg/L, 19% had both elevated and normal AFP measurements, and 76% had persistently normal AFP. Elevated AFP at consent was associated with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and end-stage liver disease. Over 6 years of follow-up, persistently elevated AFP was associated with the development of HCC; no person with AFP persistently <8 microg/mL developed HCC. Serial AFP measurements appear to be useful in identifying persons with advanced fibrosis and help to determine who needs periodic screening with liver ultrasound to detect HCC.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An estimated one-third of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection have persistently normal alanine transaminase (PNALT); however, in many previous studies alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were followed for < or = 12 months.
We analyzed data from a population-based cohort of 935 Alaska Natives with HCV, recruited from 1994 to 2005, to determine the proportion of persons with PNALT, persistently elevated ALT (PEALT), and fluctuating ALT (FLUXALT) to determine factors for each ALT state. We selected persons with two positive HCV RNA results > or = 1 year apart and > or = 6 ALT levels measured over the subsequent 3 years with at least 1 month between ALT measurements (n = 265). We defined a person as having PNALT, PEALT, or FLUXALT when all six ALT levels were normal, elevated, or did not fit either of the above two categories, respectively, during the 3-year follow-up period.
Among 208 persistently HCV RNA-positive persons, 13 had PNALT, 121 PEALT, 74 FLUXALT. Among 77 persons who underwent liver biopsy, those with PEALT were more likely to have Ishak fibrosis scores > 2 compared with persons with FLUXALT (44% vs. 10%, OR 7.0, 95% CI: 1.5-33.2). No statistically significant differences were found in ALT classification by age, gender, infection duration, median body mass index, alcohol consumption, residence, risk behavior, RNA level, or genotype.
Only 6% of persons with chronic HCV had PNALT. Persons with PEALT were significantly more likely to have higher fibrosis scores on liver biopsy than those with FLUXALT. Previous studies with short follow-up periods may have overestimated the proportion of persons with normal ALT levels.
Liver international: official journal of the International Association for the Study of the Liver 08/2006; 26(6):643-9. DOI:10.1111/j.1478-3231.2006.01281.x · 4.85 Impact Factor