Objectives Some studies suggested a possible role for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic pepetide (NT-proBNP) has been proposed to be a neurohumoral marker of cardiovascular risk. Few prior studies have evaluated such levels in HCV infection. Accordingly, the objectives of the present study were to investigate circulating levels of NT-proBNP and their relevance in patients with HCV infection.
Methods We collected 131 HCV-infected patients and 131 age and gender matched healthy individuals from January 2006 to October 2007 in China. Demographics, clinical data were collected and circulating NT-proBNP was analysed, and 63 of patients were also consecutively evaluated with echocardiography.
Results The level of serum NT-proBNP was higher in HCV-infected patients compared with controls (76.62 fmol/ml vs 51.83 fmol/ml, p<0.001, geometric means), even in HCV-infected patients without cardiovascular abnormalities (CVD history and /or abnormalities of ECG) NT-proBNP also increased (63.46 fmol/ml vs 48.14 fmol/ml, p=0.015, geometric means). A NT-proBNP level in the highest tertile was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular abnormalities, with OR of 17.91 (95% CI, 3.71 to 86.47). MVE/MVA, LVEF and FS were significantly lower among patients in the highest NT-proBNP tertile, whereas MVA was higher. In addition, compared with normal values of healthy Chinese population (39.35%±4.26%), the value of FS (36.76%±5.50%, p=0.015) was lower in patients whose serum NT-proBNP level was higher than median of controls (>56.17 fmol/ml, n=37).
Conclusions HCV infected individuals had higher NT-proBNP levels than age matched controls, which show a possible cardiac functional evidence for a pathogenic link between HCV and CVD. The finding is consistent with an increased incidence of HCV or HCV antibody described in some CVD patients.