Minimal liver injury in chronic hepatitis C virus infection is associated with low levels of soluble TNF-α/Fas receptors and acquisition in childhood


Juan Macías. C/Tabladilla, 1-C 3°I. 41013, Seville, Spain
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Abstract:Background/Aims: The rate of progression to cirrhosis of chronic hepatitis C might be related to an upregulation of TNF-α/Fas pathways. Methods: The serum levels of soluble TNF-α type II receptor (sTNFr-II) and soluble Fas antigen (sFas) were analyzed in patients with different histological outcomes of chronic parenterally acquired HCV infection of similar duration. Results: One hundred and forty-five HCV-infected patients had a known duration of infection. Twelve (8.3%) patients had minimal changes and were assigned to the case group. The control group was selected from the 24 (17%) patients with cirrhosis and the 54 (37%) with chronic active hepatitis (CAH). Two controls, one with CAH and one with cirrhosis, were paired with the cases following these criteria: duration of infection, transmission route and sex. The proportions of genotype 1b and HCV RNA serum levels were similar among the groups. The median serum levels of sTNFr-II and sFas were significantly lower in the case group than in the control groups. The cases were significantly younger when they became infected than the control groups. Indeed, most cases were infected within the first 10 years of life. sTNFr-II and age at infection were independently associated with the minimal injury case group. When sTNFr-II was excluded from the logistic regression model, sFas and age at infection were independently associated with the case group. Conclusion: The rate of progression of parenterally acquired chronic hepatitis C to end-stage liver disease might be related to an upregulation of the TNF-α/Fas pathways and an age-dependent host response.