Published online Nov 7, 2014. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i41.15233
Revised: April 28, 2014
Accepted: June 12, 2014
Published online: November 7, 2014
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a common chronic liver disease worldwide. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance (IR) are the major determinants of fibrosis progression and response to antiviral therapy. The pathogenetic link between IR and chronic HCV infection is complex, and is associated with HCV genotype. Liver steatosis is the most common in the patients infected with genotype 3 virus, possibly due to direct effects of genotype 3 viral proteins. To the contrary, hepatic steatosis in the patients infected with other genotypes is thought to be mostly due to the changes in host metabolism, involving IR. In HCV genotype 3, liver steatosis correlates with viral load, reverts after reaching the sustained virologic response and reoccurs in the relapsers. A therapeutic strategy to improve IR and liver steatosis and subsequently the response to antiviral treatment in these patients is warranted.
Core tip: Three main types of steatosis in the patients with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are known: a metabolic type associated with metabolic syndrome and two viral types: one that seems to be directly triggered by the virus and one that could originate from the interference of the virus in the mechanisms of insulin resistance. The first viral type is particularly widely considered to be predominant and, perhaps, strictly linked to HCV genotype 3 infection and its intra-hepatic viral load. This evidence is supported by the resolution of steatosis in most patients infected with genotype 3 virus after HCV eradication by antiviral therapy.