Hepatitis C virus infection is a risk factor for gallstone disease: a prospective hospital-based study of patients with chronic viral C hepatitis.J Viral Hepat. 2009 Dec; 16(12):860-6.JV
We evaluated the prevalence and the risk factors for gallstone disease in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. We investigated 453 consecutively admitted patients with chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) (cirrhosis excluded) and 879 patients without liver disease (October 2006-April 2007). Gallstone disease was diagnosed if gallstones were present at ultrasonography or if there had been a previous cholecystectomy. Variables evaluated were age, gender, gallstone heredity, body mass index, waist circumference, parity, serum lipids, fatty liver, arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome (International Diabetes Federation criteria). Informed consent was obtained from all patients. We found that 88 of 453 (19%) patients with chronic HCV hepatitis (age 50.1 +/- 11.7 years) and 153 of 879 (17%) controls (age 60.6 +/- 12.6 years) had gallstone disease (GD). Abdominal obesity (OR = 2.108, 95% CI 1.287-3.452) and steatosis (OR = 3.699, 95% CI 2.277-6.008) were risk factors for GD in HCV patients. Gallstone heredity, dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome increased the risk for GD in controls vs HCV patients. Our study shows that even HCV patients with chronic hepatitis but not cirrhosis have an increased prevalence of gallstones. Compared with controls, gallstones are present in HCV patients at a younger age and are associated with central obesity and liver steatosis, but not with gallstone heredity, dyslipidaemia, diabetes mellitus or metabolic syndrome. Although we could not establish a temporal relationship, the association between HCV infection and gall stone disease is real and appears to be causally linked, at least in predisposed individuals (obese and with liver steatosis).