Hepatitis B virus (HBV) presents an important public health problem. Liver biopsy is currently the gold standard for assessing the degree of intrahepatic inflammation and for staging liver fibrosis. However, the value of liver biopsies is limited by sampling errors, understaging and interobserver variability in interpretation. There is, therefore, a need to identify novel, non-invasive serologic biomarkers for the development of new predictive models of fibrosis.
We enrolled patients with chronic hepatitis B infection (CHB) and examined the relationships between serum soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) and interferon-induced protein-10 (IP-10), and the results of liver biopsies. Healthy volunteers with normal aminotransferase levels and negative serological results for HBV, hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus were recruited as controls.
Mean platelet volume, serum suPAR and IP-10 were significantly elevated in patients with CHB compared with controls. Median serum suPAR and IP-10 levels were significantly higher in patients with liver fibrosis compared with patients with mild fibrosis. There was no significant difference in mean platelet volume or aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index scores between patients with mild and significant fibrosis.
suPAR and IP-10 were able to distinguish between significant and mild fibrosis with good sensitivity and specificity, and may thus represent useful biomarkers for identifying patients with significant fibrosis.