Background: The liver has a critical role in the metabolism of glucose and lipids. Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection leads to a spectrum of liver disease including chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) has a rising incidence owing to an epidemic of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and obesity. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a liver manifestation of MetS and has become the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. Aim: To summarise the interplay among hepatitis viruses, MetS and its components. Methods: We searched the literature about HBV, HCV infection, MetS, fatty liver and its components from PubMed. Results: With respect to the viral replication cycle, lipids are important mediators between viral entry and hepatocyte in HCV infection, but not in HBV infection. Thus, HCV infection is inversely associated with hyperlipidaemia and lipid rebound occurs following sustained viral response induced by interferon-based therapy or direct antiviral agents. In addition, HCV infection is positively associated with insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis, MetS and the risk of T2DM and atherosclerosis. In contrast, HBV infection may protect infected subjects from the development of MetS and hepatic steatosis. Accumulating evidence suggests that HBV infection is inversely associated with lipid metabolism, and exhibits no conclusive association with insulin resistance or the risk of T2DM and arteriosclerosis. Conclusions: In patients with viral hepatitis and concurrent metabolic diseases, a multidisciplinary approach should be given rather than simply antiviral treatment.
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