Cognitive function in hepatitis C patients with advanced fibrosis enrolled in the HALT-C trial

Robert J. Fontana, Linas A. Bieliauskas, Carla Back-Madruga, Karen L. Lindsay, Ziad Kronfol, Anna S. Lok, Latha Padmanabhan

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67 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Aims: Prior studies have demonstrated neuropsychological abnormalities in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients even with mild fibrosis. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency, type, and severity of cognitive impairment in a large group of CHC patients with advanced fibrosis. Methods: Ten validated neuropsychological tests were administered to 201 CHC patients. Standard scores for individual tests were calculated using normative population data that controlled for age, gender, and/or education. Lifetime psychiatric history, alcohol consumption, and mood status were also determined. Results: 33% of patients met criteria for cognitive impairment (i.e. standard score <40 on at least 4 tests). Mild impairment in verbal recall and working memory were noted with other domains remaining intact. Liver disease severity and lifetime psychiatric/substance abuse history did not correlate with group mean cognitive test results or the presence of cognitive impairment. In contrast, IQ and depression scores were significant and independent predictors of cognitive impairment (ROC=0.84). Conclusions: 33% of patients entering the HALT-C trial have evidence of a mild, non-focal subcortical processing deficit which was highly correlated with IQ, education, and occupation. Future studies of cognitive function in CHC patients should control for general cognitive ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614-622
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2005



  • Cognitive function
  • Hepatic fibrosis
  • Hepatitis C
  • Neuropsychological testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology

Cite this

Fontana, R. J., Bieliauskas, L. A., Back-Madruga, C., Lindsay, K. L., Kronfol, Z., Lok, A. S., & Padmanabhan, L. (2005). Cognitive function in hepatitis C patients with advanced fibrosis enrolled in the HALT-C trial. Journal of Hepatology, 43(4), 614-622.