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A study of the circulating fibroblast growth factor 21 as a novel noninvasive biomarker of hepatic injury in genotype-4 chronic hepatitis C: Egyptian patients and their response to direct-acting antiviral agents

Authors El Sagheer GM, Ahmad AK, Abd-ElFattah AS, Saad ZM, Hamdi L

Received 17 May 2018

Accepted for publication 16 August 2018

Published 24 October 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 415—422

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CEG.S173484

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Hoda Malaty


Ghada M El Sagheer,1 Asmaa K Ahmad,1 Aliaa S Abd-ElFattah,1 Zienab M Saad,2 Lamia Hamdi3

1Internal Medicine Department, Endocrinology Unit, 2Hepatology Department; 3Clinical Pathology Department, Minia University, El-Minia, Egypt

Background: Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 21 was reported to be induced by different injurious agents, including chronic hepatitis C (CHC) virus, affecting the liver. The aims of this study were to evaluate the FGF21 levels in CHC patients before and after the treatment with direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) in comparison to that in control subjects and to correlate these levels with insulin resistance (IR), lipid profile, and fibrosis stages.
Patients and methods: We studied 75 naive CHC patients and 40 age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects. Patients were divided into five groups based on the severity of fibrosis as detected by Fibroscan as follows: F0, n=2; F1, n=13; F2, n=23; F3, n=16; F4, n=21. We estimated the FGF21 levels at the start of the study for all the participants and for the patients only at the end of treatment with simisipivir (SIM) and sofosbuvir (SOF). These levels were compared between the patients and the control subjects and also for the patients before and after the treatment with DAAs. The FGF21 levels were correlated to IR, lipid profile, and stages of liver fibrosis.
Results: The FGF21, fasting blood sugar (FBS), fasting insulin, and homeostasis model of IR (HOMA-IR) were significantly higher in CHC patients compared to control (5.04±0.75 vs 4.7±0.52, 20.15±5.13 vs 13.15±4.2, 4.49±1.28 vs 2.72±0.87, and 123.7±52.6 vs 21.8±8.8; P≤0.01, P≤0.001, P≤0.001, and P≤0.001, respectively). The posttreatment FGF21 levels were significantly reduced when compared to the pretreatment levels (123.7±52.5 vs 60.5±32.7, P≤0.001). FGF21 levels showed significant negative correlation with FBS and positive correlation with serum albumin (P≤0.05 and P≤0.003, respectively). The multiple linear regression analysis revealed that serum albumin, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c), and the stage of liver fibrosis were independent risk factors for FGF21.
Conclusion: Besides its metabolic modulator role, FGF21 strongly introduced itself as a novel biomarker of hepatic injury in Egyptian, genotype-4, CHC patients.

Keywords: hepatitis C, direct-acting antiviral agents, fibroblast growth factor 21

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