Chronic Hepatitis C Can Cause Body Composition Changes

Patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) have less body fat and lower bone mineral density (BMD) than healthy individuals, according to a new study.

Although previous studies have addressed the impact of CHC on patients’ bone metabolism, no other known research has compared soft tissue body composition changes in CHC patients with those of a healthy population.

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To conduct their study, the researchers recruited 60 patients with CHC who were enrolled at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases from August 2015 to February 2016 and matched them with 60 healthy controls.

Soft tissue and BMD composition parameters were assessed via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The results of the patients with CHC were compared with the results of the controls using the Mann-Whitney test.

After adjusting for multiple variables, including age, gender, and body mass index, the researchers found that patients with CHC had lower total fat mass, trunk fat mass, and percentage of body fat than the controls. Patients with CHC also had lower BMD than the healthy controls.

Low body mass index, cigarette smoking, and peginterferon alfa-2a plus ribavirin treatment were associated with reduced fat mass and lower BMD.

“Patients with CHC have an acquired type of lipodystrophy (particularly in the trunk region), and also a reduced BMD as compared with controls,” the researchers concluded.

—Amanda Balbi


Barbu EC, Chiţu-Tișu CE, Lazăr M, et al. Body composition changes in patients with chronic hepatitis C. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2016;25(3):323-329. Accessed October 6, 2016.