Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection leads to more rapid progression of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver fibrosis, which could be linked to differences in the severity of liver inflammation among HIV/HCV co-infected individuals compared to HCV mono-infected individuals. This study assessed the association of HIV co-infection with pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrogenic cytokines and chemokines during recent HCV infection.
Participants from the ATAHC study, a prospective cohort of recent HCV infection, with detectable HCV RNA at the time of acute HCV detection were included. Concentrations of 27 plasma cytokines and chemokines were measured by multiplex immunoassays and compared between those with, and without, HIV co-infection.
Out of 117 individuals with recent HCV infection included in analysis, 73 had HCV mono-infection and 44 had HIV/HCV co-infection. Individuals with HIV/HCV co-infection had significantly higher mean levels of eotaxin (1.79 vs. 1.62 log pg/mL; P < 0.001), monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1; 2.10 vs. 1.98 log pg/mL; P < 0.001), and interferon-gamma inducible protein-10 (IP-10; 3.11 vs. 2.98 log pg/mL; P = 0.013). Linear regression analyses adjusting for age, alanine transaminase (ALT), HCV RNA levels, and assay run, higher eotaxin levels were independently associated with HIV/HCV co-infection (adjusted β: 0.12; 95%CI: 0.01, 0.24; P = 0.039). Higher MCP-1 levels were also independently associated with HIV/HCV co-infection in adjusted analysis (adjusted β: 0.11; 95%CI: 0.03, 0.18; P = 0.009).
During recent HCV, those with HIV/HCV co-infection had a stronger pro-fibrogenic mediator profile compared to those with HCV mono-infection. These findings may provide a potential explanation for accelerated liver fibrosis in HIV/HCV co-infection.
Australian Trial in Acute Hepatitis C (ATAHC) study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov registry on September 11, 2005. NCT00192569 .