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Keywords:

  • alanine aminotransferase;
  • chronic hepatitis C;
  • hepatitis C viral genotype;
  • hepatitis C viral RNA;
  • histological activity index.

ABSTRACT

In patients with chronic hepatitis C, the relationships between serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, histological liver injury and serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA titres remain controversial. To evaluate these relationships, 93 Chinese patients with histological diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C were enrolled for this study. Serum ALT levels, HCV-RNA titres and HCV genotypes were examined. The histology was evaluated according to a modified histological activity score based on the degree of periportal necro-inflammation, intralobular necro-inflammation, portal inflammation, total necro-inflammation and fibrosis. The mean serum ALT level was significantly higher in patients with severe intralobular necro-inflammation activity than in patients with mild or no activity (P= 0.013). However, scores of intralobular activity were only weakly correlated with serum ALT levels (r= 0.27) and could not be used to adequately predict ALT values. Serum ALT levels showed no significant correlation with the scores of portal inflammation, periportal necro-inflammation, total necro-inflammation and fibrosis. Also, there was no significant difference in the mean serum ALT level among different serum HCV-RNA levels and HCV genotypes. Serum HCV-RNA titres and genotypes showed no significant correlation with liver histology and serum HCV-RNA titres were only weakly correlated with the total necro-inflammatory score (r= 0.27). In conclusion, although serum ALT levels were higher in patients with more severe intralobular necro-inflammatory activity, the correlation was not strong enough to adequately predict ALT values. Serum HCV-RNA titres and genotypes also showed no significant correlation with serum ALT levels and liver histologies.