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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 21 (2007), Issue 5, Pages 289-294
Original Article

Association between Leptin, Metabolic Factors and Liver Histology in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C

Robert P Myers,1,2 Djamila Messous,2 Thierry Poynard,2 and Francoise Imbert-Bismut3

1Liver Unit, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2Service d’Hépato-Gastro-Entérologie, Hôpital La Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France
3Service de Biochimie, Hôpital La Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France

Received 11 May 2006; Accepted 14 August 2006

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Steatosis is common in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients and likely accelerates fibrosis progression. Leptin, the peptide product of the obesity gene (ob), has been implicated in hepatic fibrogenesis; circulating levels of leptin correlate with body fat mass. The objective of the present study was to determine the clinical and histological correlates of serum leptin in HCV-infected patients, and to determine its utility in predicting liver histological lesions.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: In 62 patients with chronic HCV, serum leptin was measured using a commercially available immunoassay. Associations between leptin, metabolic parameters, and severe hepatic fibrosis (stages 2 to 4) and steatosis (30% or greater) were determined. The utility of leptin in predicting liver histology was determined using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves.

RESULTS: The median body mass index (BMI) was 23.2 kg/m2 (range 17.7 kg/m2 to 35.6 kg/m2); 16% of patients (n=10) had HCV genotype 3. Severe fibrosis and steatosis were present in 23% and 13% of patients, respectively. Leptin was strongly correlated with the BMI, and its levels were higher in women. BMI-corrected leptin levels were not independently associated with severe fibrosis but were significantly associated with steatosis (OR of 1.07; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.04). On it own, leptin was poorly predictive of severe steatosis (area under the ROC curve was 0.64; 95% CI 0.42 to 0.87). However, its accuracy improved with the addition of HCV genotype (area under the ROC curve was 0.86; 95% CI 0.72 to 1.00; P=0.07).

CONCLUSIONS: As observed in the non-HCV setting, serum leptin correlates with BMI; higher leptin levels are found in women than men with chronic HCV. Serum leptin is a poor predictor of HCV-related fibrosis but may play a role in predicting steatosis when combined with HCV genotype.