Risk factors for hepatitis C fibrosis: a prospective study of United States veterans compared with nonveterans.J Viral Hepat. 2007 Jan; 14(1):11-21.JV
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes cirrhosis in many infected patients; however, a better understanding of the risk factors for fibrosis progression in high HCV prevalence groups such as US veterans is needed. We wished to compare the demographic, clinical characteristics, and independent variables that influence fibrosis in US veterans vs nonveterans with chronic HCV. HCV-seropositive US veterans (n = 459) and nonveterans (n = 395) prospectively completed a detailed medical, social and occupational questionnaire. Clinical factors for progressive liver disease were compared between veterans and nonveterans and fibrosis stage assessed on liver biopsies (168 veterans and 208 nonveterans). Using polychotomous logistic regression, fibrosis was analysed as both a progressive and categorical outcome to determine independent risk factors for both patient groups. Although veterans were significantly older and had higher lifetime alcohol consumption than nonveterans, their median fibrosis scores did not differ from nonveterans. By univariate analysis, alanine aminotransferase, necroinflammatory activity (NIA), and cryoglobulin positivity were associated with fibrosis in veterans and nonveterans (P < 0.05, all comparisons), whereas steatosis was associated with fibrosis only in nonveterans (P < 0.0001). By multivariate analysis, NIA was an independent risk factor for fibrosis in both groups (P < 0.01). However, fibrosis in nonveterans was also independently associated with steatosis, significant alcohol consumption and age (P < 0.04, all comparisons). Independent risk factors for fibrosis vary among high HCV prevalence groups such as veterans when compared with nonveterans. Understanding specific patient cohort effects is important for determining independent risk factors for disease progression in chronic HCV infection.