BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE:
Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is associated with a higher prevalence of insulin resistance compared to the general population. This finding is associated with hepatic steatosis, increased liver fibrosis and lower rates of sustained virological response to interferon based therapy. The relationship of insulin resistance and HCV genotype is controversial. Our aim was to compare the prevalence of insulin resistance between patients with HCV genotype 1 and 3. The association of insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis and liver fibrosis was also investigated.
Forty four consecutive treatment naïve patients with HCV genotypes 1 or 3, without cirrhosis and without risk factors for metabolic syndrome were prospectively included. Insulin resistance was defined as a homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) above 2.0. Steatosis and fibrosis were assessed histologically. Insulin resistance was found in 27 (61%) patients and significant steatosis in 37 (84%) patients. Comparison between patients with HCV genotype 1 and 3 showed insulin resistance in 15 (65%) vs. 12 (57%), respectively (P = 0.81) and steatosis in 19 (83%) vs. 18 (86%), respectively (P = 0.93). Comparison between patients with and without insulin resistance showed, respectively, a higher prevalence of significant fibrosis (56% vs. 6%; P = 0.0001), and a higher mean degree of steatosis (1.3 ± 0.72 vs. 0.76 ± 0.56; P = 0.01).
Prevalence of insulin resistance was not different between HCV infected patients with genotype 1 vs. 3. Nevertheless, independent of HCV genotype, there was a statistically significant relationship between insulin resistance and a higher amount of liver fibrosis and steatosis.