Background: Egypt has the highest prevalence of HCV infection in the world (~14.7%). Around 10-15% of HCV-infected persons will advance to cirrhosis within the first 20 years. The incidence of HCC is expected to grow in the next two decades, largely due to HCV related cirrhosis, and detection of HCC at an early stage is critical for a favorable clinical outcome. No simple reliable non-invasive marker has been available till now. B2M, a non-glycosylated polypeptide composed of 99 amino acids, is one of the components of HLA class I molecules on the surfaces of all nucleated cells. It has been reported that the level of serum B2M is elevated in patients with chronic hepatitis C and HCV-related HCC when compared to HCV-negative patients or healthy donors. Determining the clinical utility of serum Β2M as a marker for disease progression in Egyptian patients with HCV related chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma was the aim of the present study. Materials and
Methods: In this analytical cross sectional study 92 participants were included in 4 equal groups: Group (1) non cirrhotic chronic HCV; Group (2) HCV related liver cirrhosis; Group (3) HCC on top of HCV,; and Group (4) healthy controls. History taking, clinical examination, routine labs and abdominal ultrasound were conducted for all patients, PCR and Metavir scores for group (1) patients, and triphasic CT abdomen and AFP for Group (3) patients. Β2M levels were measured in serum with a fully-automated IMX system.
Results: The mean serum B2M level of Group (1) was 4.25±1.48 μg/ml., Group (2) was 7.48±3.04, Group (3) was 6.62±2.49 and Group (4) was 1.62±0.63. Serum B2M levels were significantly higher in diseased than control group (p<0.01) being significantly higher in cirrhosis (7.48±3.04) and HCC groups (6.62±2.49) than the HCV group (4.25±1.48) (p<0.01). There was a significant correlation between B2M Level and ALK, total and direct bilirubin and INR (p<0.05), and a significant inverse correlation between B2M level and albumin, total proteins, HB andWBCS values (p<0.05). There was no significant correlation between B2M level and viral load or Metavir score, largest tumour size or AFP (p>0.05). The best B2M cut-off for HCV diagnosis was 2.6 with a sensitivity of 100%, a specificity of 92%, a positive predictive value (PPV) of 97% and a negative predictive value (NPV) of 100%. The best B2M cut-off for HCC diagnosis was 4.55 which yielded sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive values of 74%, 62%, 39.5, 87.8% respectively (p-value <0.01) while best cut-off for cirrhosis was 4.9, with sensitivity 74 % and specificity 74%.The sensitivity for HCC diagnosis increased upon B2M and AFP combined estimation to 91%, specificity to 79%, NPV to 95% and accuracy to 83%.
Conclusions: Serum B2M level is elevated in HCV related chronic liver diseases and may be used as a marker for HCV disease progression towards cirrhosis and carcinoma.