Get access

Association of chronic hepatitis B virus infection with insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis


Professor Jia-Horng Kao, Director, Hepatitis Research Center, National Taiwan University Hospital, 7 Chung-Shan South Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan. Email:


Background and Aim:  Chronic viral infections such as human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus (HCV) may decrease tissue response to insulin, thereby causing insulin resistance. In addition, insulin resistance is associated with hepatic steatosis. However, whether these phenomena hold true for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains largely unknown. The present study therefore aimed to investigate the association of chronic HBV infection with insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis.

Methods:  A total of 507 subjects (243 men and 264 women; mean age 46.56 years) less than 60 years-old attending a health examination center were enrolled in the study. All the subjects were negative for antibodies against HCV and consumed less than 140 g alcohol/week. Demographic, anthropometric, clinical, and laboratory data were obtained from each subject. Insulin resistance index was determined using homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR). Hepatic steatosis was identified by ultrasound examination.

Results:  Of the 507 subjects, 50 (9.9%) were positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and designated HBV carriers. All variables were comparable between HBV carriers and non-HBV carriers, except that HBV carriers had significantly higher serum alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase levels (P < 0.05). By multivariate linear regression, HBV carriers were not associated with insulin resistance. In addition, multivariate regression analyses showed that HBV carriers were not associated with the presence of ultrasonographic fatty liver.

Conclusions:  Chronic HBV infection seems not to be associated with insulin resistance or hepatic steatosis in HBV carriers.