To provide information about the role of liver fluke infection as a risk factor for hepatobiliary pathological changes and promote awareness among the people living in endemic areas, a systematic review and meta-analysis based on published studies was conducted to examine the association between liver fluke infection and hepatobiliary pathological changes.
Relevant original literature was searched in multiple literature databases, including PubMed, Cochrane, Clinical Evidence, Trip Database, Clinical Trials, Current Controlled Trials, Web of Science, the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) database, and the Wanfang academic journal full-text database. Studies were selected based on strict screening with inclusion and exclusion criteria. Tests of heterogeneity, sensitivity and publication bias were performed with the Review Manager software, version 5.3, and meta-regression analyses were performed with the Stata software, version 11.0 (Stata Corporation, College Station, TX, USA). Pooled risk ratios (RRs) and odds ratios (ORs) with their 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated and used to evaluate the risk of hepatobiliary pathological changes resulting from liver fluke infection. Linear trend analyses were conducted to determine the dose-response relationship using IBM SPSS Statistics 20.0.
A total of 36 studies were included in the meta-analysis. Significant associations were found between liver fluke infection and cholangitis or cholecystitis (RR: 7.80, P<0.001; OR: 15.98, P<0.001), cholelithiasis (RR: 2.42, P = 0.03; OR: 4.96, P = 0.03), hepatocellular carcinoma (OR: 4.69, P<0.001) and cholangiocarcinoma (RR: 10.43, P<0.001; OR: 4.37, P<0.001). In addition, heavier infection was significantly associated with higher incidence of hepatobiliary pathological changes (P<0.05). However, cirrhosis was not significantly associated with liver fluke infection (RR: 3.50, P = 0.06; OR: 5.79, P = 0.08). The statistical heterogeneity was significant, no significant difference was observed in the sensitivity analysis, and no publication bias was found.
The meta-analysis found that liver fluke infection was significantly associated with cholangitis, cholecystitis, cholelithiasis, hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma and that more severe infection was associated with higher incidence. However, the association between liver fluke infection and cirrhosis was not significant.