Excess Prevalence Of Hepatitis C Seen In Diabetics

WESTPORT Sep 20 (Reuters)
The prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection was found to be four times higher among diabetics than controls in a recent study from Spain, leading the researchers to speculate the virus may play a role in the etiology of the disease.

Among 176 Type I and II diabetic patients, the rate of serologic detection of anti-HCV was 11.5%, compared with 2.5% among the 6,172 blood donors evaluated as controls. Dr. Rafael Simo of the Hospital General Universitari Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona, Spain, reports that both groups had the same prevalence of prior blood transfusion, intravenous drug abuse, hospital admissions and surgical procedures.

Among the diabetics who tested positive for hepatitis C, 72.3% had abnormal liver function test (LFT) findings, compared with 24.7% of the controls. "In consequence, based on our results, testing for HCV infection in diabetic patients with an abnormal LFT is mandatory," Dr. Simo concludes.

Dr. Simo adds that although the study is the first demonstration that diabetics have an abnormally high prevalence of the virus, it found no reason for the difference. However, he suggests the lack of any pertinent epidemiological factor "...supports the hypothesis that HCV may have a direct role in the development of diabetes," either by attacking the pancreas directly or contributing to the immune system activation directed against islet cells.

Diabetes Care 1996;19:998-1000.

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