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Keywords:

  • albumin;
  • ghrelin;
  • gut hormone;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • liver cirrhosis

Abstract

Background & Aims

Metabolic disorders are frequently seen in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients. Ghrelin, a gut hormone, regulates hepatic metabolisms, and must be activated to exert its biological effects. The aims of this study were to investigate changes in plasma active ghrelin levels and identify independent factors associated with plasma active ghrelin levels in HCV-infected patients.

Methods

We enrolled patients with HCV infection (n = 96), hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (n = 49), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD; n = 20) and healthy subjects (CON; n = 16). Plasma active ghrelin levels were measured using ELISA. Factors associated with plasma active ghrelin levels were assessed by multivariate and Spearman's correlation analyses.

Results

Plasma active ghrelin levels were significantly lower in relation to the severity of liver disease in both the HBV and HCV groups. Furthermore, HCV infection was identified as an independent factor associated with decreased plasma active ghrelin levels in the multivariate analysis (OR −3.05; 95% CI −0.93 to −19.51; P = 0.0192). Plasma active ghrelin levels were significantly correlated with serum albumin levels in the HCV group (ρ = 0.497, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions

We demonstrated that liver cirrhosis and HCV infection were independent factors associated plasma active ghrelin levels. Moreover, plasma active ghrelin levels were positively correlated with serum albumin levels among HCV-infected patients. Therefore, active ghrelin levels may be regulated by both progression of liver disease and HCV infection and could be involved in the regulation of serum albumin levels in HCV-infected patients.