AIM: To evaluate the accuracy of specific biochemical markers for the assessment of hepatic fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
METHODS: One hundred and fifty-four patients with chronic HCV infection were included in this study; 124 patients were non-cirrhotic, and 30 were cirrhotic. The following measurements were obtained in all patients: serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), albumin, total bilirubin, prothrombin time and concentration, complete blood count, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), HCVAb, HCV-RNA by quantitative polymerase chain reaction, abdominal ultrasound and ultrasonic-guided liver biopsy. The following ratios, scores and indices were calculated and compared with the results of the histopathological examination: AST/ALT ratio (AAR), age platelet index (API), AST to platelet ratio index (APRI), cirrhosis discriminating score (CDS), Pohl score, Göteborg University Cirrhosis Index (GUCI).
RESULTS: AAR, APRI, API and GUCI demonstrated good diagnostic accuracy of liver cirrhosis (80.5%, 79.2%, 76.6% and 80.5%, respectively); P values were: < 0.01, < 0.05, < 0.001 and < 0.001, respectively. Among the studied parameters, AAR and GUCI gave the highest diagnostic accuracy (80.5%) with cutoff values of 1.2 and 1.5, respectively. APRI, API and GUCI were significantly correlated with the stage of fibrosis (P < 0.001) and the grade of activity (P < 0.001, < 0.001 and < 0.005, respectively), while CDS only correlated significantly with the stage of fibrosis (P < 0.001) and not with the degree of activity (P > 0.05). In addition, we found significant correlations for the AAR, APRI, API, GUCI and Pohl score between the non-cirrhotic (F0, F1, F2, F3) and cirrhotic (F4) groups (P values: < 0.001, < 0.05, < 0.001, < 0.001 and < 0.005, respectively; CDS did not demonstrate significant correlation (P > 0.05).
CONCLUSION: The use of AAR, APRI, API, GUCI and Pohl score measurements may decrease the need for liver biopsies in diagnosing cirrhosis, especially in Egypt, where resources are limited.