Patients with Hepatitis C who also carry a particular type of gene may be more prone to developing diabetes, a two-year study by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital has found.
The study on more than 100 Hepatitis C patients has found that in those carrying “non-CC genotype” of interleukin-28b gene, the possibility of developing diabetes is 31 per cent, compared to 13 per cent in those carrying “CC genotype” of the same gene.
The study has been accepted for publication in the coming issue of the Journal of Clinical and Translational Hepatology. Dr Anil Arora, the principal investigator of the study, said the non-CC genotypes were associated with insulin resistance. “There is an association between interleukin-28b gene and insulin resistance, which in turn leads to diabetes,” added Dr Arora, head of gastroenterology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Doctors studied 115 patients with Hepatitis C-related chronic liver diseases between 2012 and 2014. “When we put both the categories of the interleukin-28b gene together, diabetes prevalence was 22 per cent, which is anyway higher than the general population. So patients with hepatitis, irrespective of the genotype of the gene do have a higher chance of contracting diabetes. But those with the particular genotype we analysed, or patients from a particular subgroup of hepatitis C, have an even higher chance of getting the disease,” said Dr Arora. Doctors have said in the study that testing for this gene “may be useful in patients of Hepatitis C, in order to determine their likelihood of developing diabetes mellitus.” Recently, many epidemiological studies had shown a significant two-way association between diabetes mellitus and Hepatitis C virus infection. While many of these have shown that people with diabetes are more prone to acquire Hepatitis C, studies are now showing the correlation is true the other way round too. According to doctors, when Hepatitis C and diabetes affect patients at the same time, there is rapid progression of liver cirrhosis and a high chance of liver cancer. “Because of this two-way association of diabetes mellitus and HCV infection, it is advisable that all diabetics should get tested for HCV. This is especially true for those diabetics who have liver function tests abnormalities which can be an early indicator of developing insulin resistance,” said Dr Arora.