Variability in definitions of transaminase upper limit of the normal impacts the APRI performance as a biomarker of fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C: "APRI c'est fini ?".

Clinics and research in hepatology and gastroenterology

Perazzo H, Pais R, Munteanu M, Ngo Y, Monneret D, Imbert-Bismut F, Moussalli J, Lebray P, Benhamou Y, Thabut D, Ratziu V, de Ledhingen V, Poynard T

2014 Clin Res Hepatol Gastroenterol Volume 38 Issue 4

PubMed 24924901 DOI 10.1016/j.clinre.2014.04.006

FibroTest Reliability vs. Biomarkers HCV HBV Metabolic Diseases Alcohol Fibrosis


The aspartate aminotransferase platelet ratio index (APRI) is a validated, non-patented blood test for diagnosing fibrosis or cirrhosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C. We assess the impact of two limitations, the variability of the upper limit of normal for aspartate aminotransferase (AST-ULN) and the risk of overestimating fibrosis stage due to necroinflammatory activity.


The variability of AST-ULN was assessed by an overview of the literature and an assessment of AST-ULN in 2 control populations 7521 healthy volunteers and 393 blood donors. We assessed the impact of AST-ULN variability on APRI performance for estimating fibrosis prevalence and on the Obuchowski measure using individual data of 1651 patients with APRI, FibroTest and biopsy.


The overview, and the analysis of the control populations found that ULN-AST ranged from 26 to 49 IU/L according to gender, body mass index and serum cholesterol. When this AST-ULN variability was applied to the chronic hepatitis group, the prevalence of advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis as presumed by APRI varied (P<0.001) from 34.7% to 68.5%, and from 11.4% to 32.3%, respectively. This spectrum effect induced variability in APRI performance, which could be similar 0.862 (if AST-ULN=26 IU/L) or lower 0.820 (AST-ULNā‰„30IU/L) than the stable FibroTest performance (0.867; P=0.35 and P<0.0001 respectively). When applied to 18 acute hepatitis C patients, the rate of false positives of APRI varied from 0% to 61% due to AST-ULN.


The AST-ULN variability is high highly associated with the variability of metabolic risk factors between the different control groups. This variability induces a spectrum effect, which could cause misleading interpretations of APRI performance for the staging of fibrosis, comparisons of APRI with other non-invasive tests, and estimates of false positive rate.

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