Insulin resistance/β-cell function and serum ferritin level in non-diabetic patients with hepatitis C virus infection


Toshiaki Nakashima, Third Department of Internal Medicine, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kawaramachi-Hirokoji, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8566, Japan.
Tel: +81 075 251 5519.
Fax: +81 075 251 0710.


Background/Aims: Since impaired glucose tolerance and iron overload are frequently demonstrated in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver diseases, in this study we investigated insulin resistance, pancreatic β-cell function, i.e., insulin secretion, and serum ferritin levels in patients with HCV infection, especially non-diabetic patients.

Methods: Homeostasis model assessments for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and β-cell function (HOMA-β) were performed in 92 HCV-infected patients.

Results: The levels of plasma immunoreactive insulin (IRI), HOMA-IR, and HOMA-β were significantly correlated with fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels. Among the 86 non-diabetics (with an FPG of <126 mg/dl), IRI, HOMA-IR, and HOMA-β were significantly higher in patients with liver cirrhosis than in patients with persistently normal alanine aminotransferase levels. The IRI and HOMA-IR values, but not the HOMA-β values, were correlated with both serum transaminase and ferritin levels in the 65 non-diabetic chronic hepatitis patients.

Conclusion: Insulin resistance was connected with impaired glucose tolerance and the severity of liver diseases in non-diabetic patients with HCV infection. Iron overload may be responsible for insulin resistance, or vice versa. Pancreatic β-cell function was unrelated to the patients' serum ferritin levels.