High Prevalence of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Diabetic Patients

  1. Jordi Mesa, MD, PHD
  1. Departments of Endocrinology, Hospital Universitari Vail d'Hebron Barcelona, Spain
  2. Hepatology, Hospital Universitari Vail d'Hebron Barcelona, Spain
  3. Biochemistry, Hospital Universitari Vail d'Hebron Barcelona, Spain
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Rafael Simó, MD, PhD, Department of Endocrinology, Hospital Cieneral Universitari Vail d'Hebron, Pg. Vail d'Hebron 119–129, 08035 Barcelona, Spain.


OBJECTIVE To evaluate the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in diabetic patients and to investigate the influence of several epidemiological and clinical factors on HCV infection.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS A total of 176 consecutive diabetic patients were compared with 6,172 blood donors, matched by recognized risk factors to acquire HCV infection. Serologic testing for anti-HCV was done using a second-generation commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and an immunoblot assay was performed in anti-HCV positive samples to confirm HCV specificity. Diabetic patients were divided in two groups according to their HCV antibody status and analyzed for the following variables: age, sex, type of diabetes, duration of disease, mode of therapy, late diabetic complications, previous blood transfusions, intravenous drug addiction, hospital admissions, major surgical procedures, and liver function tests (LFTs).

RESULTS A higher prevalence of HCV infection was observed in diabetic patients in comparison with blood donors (11.5 vs. 2.5%; P < 0.001; odds ratio 4.39; 95% CI 2.61–7.24). We did not detect any particular epidemiological factor for HCV infection in anti-HCV positive diabetic patients. In these patients, abnormal LFTs were observed in 72.3%, compared with only 24.7% of anti-HCV negative diabetic patients (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS A high prevalence of HCV infection was detected in diabetic patients, and most of anti-HCV positive patients presented with abnormal LFTs. Therefore, testing for HCV infection of diabetic patients with an abnormal LFT is mandatory. The lack of any particular epidemiological factor for HCV infection in our diabetic population suggests that HCV may have a direct role in the development of diabetes.

  • Received October 27, 1995.
  • Accepted March 21, 1996.
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