Progression to cirrhosis in hepatitis C patients: an age-dependent process


Pierre Pradat, Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Hôtel-Dieu, 1 place de l'Hôpital, 69288 Lyon cedex 02, France.
Tel: +33 4 72 41 39 35
Fax: +33 4 72 41 31 40


Background: Age at infection is known to be associated with disease progression rate in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infected patients. The aim of this study was to assess when cirrhosis is expected to occur according to host and viral factors.

Methods: Fibrosis progression was studied in 247 naive HCV patients using multiple regression analysis. The expected age at cirrhosis was calculated for each patient.

Results: Progression rate was 0.13, 0.14, 0.27, and 0.36 U of fibrosis/year for patients with age at infection ≤19, 20–24, 25–36 and ≥37 years, respectively. Age at infection above 37 years was independently associated with fast progression (rate>0.13; P=0.001). Body mass index >25 kg/m2 and alanine aminotransferase>3 × ULN are also possibly associated with faster progression. Based on progression rates, the expected age at cirrhosis is 65.4, 64.6, 64.8 and 69.4 years for age at infection ≤19, 20–24, 25–36, ≥37 years, respectively.

Conclusion: Most HCV patients, if untreated, are expected to develop cirrhosis at about 65 years, irrespective of the age at infection. Thus, age itself seems even more important than age at infection for predicting the occurrence of liver cirrhosis. A specific active monitoring and therapeutic approach should be adopted in older patients to prevent progression to cirrhosis and its complications.