Open Access
Circulating fibrocytes as a marker of liver fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C
Giuseppe Nunnari1,Carlo Vancheri1,Elisa Gilli1,Simona Migliore1,Filippo Palermo1,Cristina La Rosa1,Piermario Nicotra1,Rosario Russo1,Bruno Cacopardo1
Department of Medicine and Medical Specialties, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Catania, Via Palermo 636, Catania, Italy.
DOI: 10.2741/E184 Volume 2 Issue 4, pp.1241-1245
Published: 01 June 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biochemical markers in biological fluids)

Surrogate markers of liver fibrosis are needed as an alternative to liver biopsy, which is invasive and life-threatening. Peripheral blood fibrocytes (PBF) are considered to be involved in systemic fibrogenic processes. We measured the level of PBF in patients with chronic hepatitis C by enrolling 70 patients affected with chronic hepatitis C, 20 patients with HCV-positive decompensated cirrhosis and 30 healthy volunteers. All patients underwent liver biopsy and Fibroscan for fibrosis assessment. Patients with chronic hepatitis C had significantly higher levels of PBF in comparison with healthy individuals and decompensated cirrhotics. Patients in the F0-F1 stage had a percentage of PBF of 23.3+/-4%, significantly lower (p<0.001) than in F2 and F3 stages. Patients in the F4 stage had a PBF rate of 50.6+/-2% (p<0.001 versus the F0, F1 and F2 stages). The percentage of PBF correlated positively with the Metavir score and the liver stiffness as measured by Fibroscan. PBF are increased in patients with HCV infection and correlate with the histological stage of liver fibrosis.

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Giuseppe Nunnari, Carlo Vancheri, Elisa Gilli, Simona Migliore, Filippo Palermo, Cristina La Rosa, Piermario Nicotra, Rosario Russo, Bruno Cacopardo. Circulating fibrocytes as a marker of liver fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C. Frontiers in Bioscience-Elite. 2010. 2(4); 1241-1245.