Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine the incidence and risk factors associated with new-onset and worsening portal hypertensive gastropathy (PHG) in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Methods: A total of 831 CHC patients with bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis at the time of entry were prospectively monitored for clinical and histological liver disease progression while receiving either low-dose peginterferon α2a or no antiviral therapy in the HALT-C (Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-term Treatment against Cirrhosis) trial. Upper endoscopy with grading of PHG was performed at baseline and at year 4 of the study. The presence and severity of PHG were determined using the NIEC (New Italian Endoscopy Conference) criteria, and worsening PHG was defined as a score increase of 1 point. Results: During a median follow-up of 3.85 years, 50% of 514 subjects without PHG developed new-onset PHG, whereas 26% of 317 patients with baseline PHG had worsening PHG. Independent predictors of new-onset PHG included higher alkaline phosphatase and being diabetic, whereas predictors of worsening PHG were Caucasian race, lower albumin, as well as higher serum aspartate transaminase/alanine transaminase ratio and homeostatic model assessment levels. New-onset and worsening PHG were significantly associated with clinical and histological progression. They were also associated with new-onset and worsening gastroesophageal varices. Conclusions: New-onset and worsening PHG develop at a rate of 12.9% per year and 6.7% per year, respectively, in non-responder CHC patients with advanced fibrosis. If confirmed in other studies, endoscopic surveillance for PHG may need to be tailored to individual patient risk factors.
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