Background: Noninvasive evaluation of hepatic fibrosis is a growing scientific effort in medicine and is of particular interest as early diagnosis is important for the timely prevention and treatment of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Non-invasive markers of liver fibrosis have recently been developed as an alternative to liver biopsy. Aim of the work: The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic value of serum microRNA 122 in Egyptian chronic hepatitis C virus infected patients. This may be a useful tool as a non invasive diagnostic test to detect early stages of fibrosis in comparison to 4 non invasive indexes (APRI, Forns, FIB-4, and FI) vs. control and their ability to differentiate between mild and moderate fibrosis stages.
Methods: This study was conducted on 40 chronic hepatitis C patients diagnosed by liver biopsy and PCR and 20 apparently healthy volunteers who served as control group (III). Liver fibrosis was staged according to the METAVIR scoring system and consequently patients were classified in two groups of liver fibrosis: mild fibrosis (I) and moderate fibrosis (II).
Results: The mean expression level of microRNA-122 was significantly higher in both patient groups (I and II) as compared to the control group (III) (p < 0.001 for each). While there was no statistically significant difference in serum miR-122 expression level between group I compared to group II, microRNA 122 and 4 non invasive indexes (APRI, Forns, FIB-4, and FI) were statistically significant for prediction of fibrosis. MicroRNA 122 had the best performing ROC curve for prediction of fibrosis followed by APRI, FI, Forns, and FIB-4. The AUROCs ranged from 0.912 for FIB-4 to 1 for microRNA 122. While FIB-4 and Forns were statistically significant in differentiating mild and moderate fibrosis, FIB-4 had a better AUROC than Forns (0.75 and 0.71, respectively).
Conclusions: The study concluded that there was increased expression of mcroiRNA-122 in Egyptian chronic hepatitis C virus (CHCV) infected patients. MicroRNA 122 has a strong potential to serve as one of the novel noninvasive markers of early liver fibrosis.