Assessment of liver histology in chronic alcoholics with and without hepatitis C virus infection

S. Anderson, Christopher Lloyd Nevins, L. K. Green, H. El-Zimaity, B. S. Anand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Patients with alcoholic liver disease have a high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The histological appearances of the liver in patients with alcoholic liver disease and HCV infection are well described. However, liver histology in individuals with dual pathology, both chronic alcohol abuse and HCV infection, is less well understood. The purpose of the present study was to examine this issue and to determine if there is any correlation between specific histological features and the serum biochemical abnormalities seen in these patients. Eighty-six chronic alcoholics, 65 with HCV infection and 21 uninfected subjects, were included in the study. All patients had history of heavy alcohol abuse (consuming 80 g or more of ethanol a day for at least 10 years). The following data were collected on each patient: demographic information (age, gender, race), the amount and duration of alcohol intake, biochemical results, and liver biopsy abnormalities including the histological activity index (HAI) score. HCV-infected alcoholics were younger (P = 0.05) and were more often African American than Caucasian (P < 0.01). Alcohol consumption was significantly greater in uninfected alcoholics compared to those with HCV infection (P < 0.05). Liver histology in subjects with HCV infection showed higher HAI scores for intralobular necrosis (P = 0.008) and periportal inflammation (P = 0.004). Features of "chronic hepatitis" and focal lymphoid aggregates were more frequent in HCV-infected alcoholics (P = 0.001 for each). By contrast, cirrhosis was present in a higher proportion of uninfected alcoholics compared to those with HCV infection (P = 0.05). Histological findings of hepatic fibrosis and total HAI score showed a significant correlation with serum albumin and platelet count in HCV-infected alcoholics. Chronic alcoholics with HCV infection have specific histological appearances that can usually help distinguish these patients from uninfected alcoholics. Correlation analysis indicates that of the various laboratory tests, serum albumin and platelet counts are the best predictors of the severity of liver damage at histology. In chronic alcoholics, the development of cirrhosis is related more to the amount of alcohol consumed than to the presence of HCV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1398
Number of pages6
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001


  • Alcohol abuse
  • Hepatitis C
  • Liver histology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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