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Keywords:

  • hepatitis C virus;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • interferon;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • survival

Abstract

There is strong evidence linking chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). Recent studies have suggested that DM is associated with increased risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of our cohort study was to assess whether DM influence the incidence of HCC in chronic hepatitis C patients treated with interferon (IFN)-based antiviral therapy. A total of 1,470 chronic hepatitis C patients treated with IFN or pegylated-IFN plus ribavirin therapy were enrolled. Of them, 253 (17%) patients had DM at entry. Evaluation of HCC incidence was performed by Kaplan–Meier method and Cox proportional hazards analysis. Patients with baseline DM were significantly older and had higher body mass index, serum transaminase levels and fibrosis scores and lower platelet counts compared to non-DM subjects. Sustained virological response (SVR) was achieved in 160 (63%) of DM and 867 (71%) of non-DM patients (p = 0.008). During a median follow-up period of 4.3 years, HCC developed in 21 (8.3%) of DM and 66 (5.4%) of non-DM patients (p = 0.017). However, DM was not an independent covariate by Cox proportional hazards analysis. In a subgroup analysis, DM (hazard ratio, 4.32; 95% confidence interval, 1.23–15.25; p = 0.023) was an independent predictor of HCC in the SVR patients without baseline cirrhosis, despite a low HCC incidence. In conclusion, DM has a selective impact on HCC development among chronic hepatitis C patients after IFN-based therapy. DM may increase the HCC risk in chronic hepatitis C without cirrhosis after eradication of HCV.