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Relationship Between Metabolic Syndrome, Alanine Aminotransferase Levels, and Liver Disease Severity in a Multiethnic North American Cohort With Chronic Hepatitis B

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Metabolic syndrome (MS) is prevalent and is associated with adverse outcomes of liver disease. We evaluated the prevalence of MS and its influence on alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels and fibrosis, as estimated by the aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index (APRI), in a large, multiethnic North American cohort with chronic hepatitis B (HBV) infection.

Research design and methods

Adults with chronic HBV from 21 centers within the U.S. and Canada were evaluated at baseline and for up to 5 years (median 3.7 years) of follow-up. MS was defined as the presence of at least three of five criteria including waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose, triglyceride, and HDL levels.


Analysis included 777 participants, of whom 171 (22%) had MS. Participants with MS (vs. those without MS) were older (median age 54.4 vs. 40.2 years), more often male (61% vs. 51%), and born in the U.S./Canada or had immigrated >20 years ago (60% vs. 43%). MS was not associated with ALT or APRI at baseline. Upon adjusted multivariable analysis of serial ALT values, ALT was significantly higher (mean 12%; P = 0.02) among those with MS at baseline and even higher (mean 19%; P = 0.003) among those with persistent MS compared with those with persistent absence of MS. MS was not associated with serial APRI on follow-up.


MS was prevalent in this HBV cohort and was independently associated with higher ALT levels longitudinally. These findings highlight the importance of screening for MS and the potential for MS to influence ALT and its interpretation in the context of HBV treatment decisions.

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