Elevated liver stiffness is linked to increased biomarkers of inflammation and immune activation in HIV/hepatitis C virus-coinfected patients

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Abstract

Objectives:

Immune dysregulation is a hallmark of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. We aimed to evaluate the relationship between liver stiffness measurement (LSM) and biomarkers of T-cell activation, bacterial translocation, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and coagulopathy in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients.

Design:

Cross-sectional study.

Methods:

We studied 238 HIV/HCV-coinfected patients, 32 healthy controls, and 39 HIV-monoinfected patients. Patients were stratified according to LSM into four groups: less than 12.5, 12.5–25, 25–40, and more than 40 kPa. T-cell subsets were measured using flow cytometry and plasma biomarkers using immunoassays.

Results:

HIV/HCV-coinfected patients had higher biomarker levels of immune activation in peripheral blood [T-cell activation (CD4+CD38+ and CD8+CD38+), bacterial translocation (soluble CD14), inflammation [IL-1b, IL-6, IL-8, IL-18, IFN-γ-inducible protein 10 (IP-10)] endothelial dysfunction [soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (sVCAM1), soluble intercellular cell adhesion molecule 1 (sICAM1), and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (sTNFR1)], and coagulopathy (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1)] than healthy controls and HIV-monoinfected patients. Moreover, in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients, a direct relationship between LSM and immune activation [T-cell activation (CD8+CD38+ bacterial translocation (lipopolysaccharide), inflammation (IL-8, IP-10), endothelial dysfunction (sVCAM1, sICAM1, and sTNFR1), and coagulopathy (D-dimer)] was found. Subsequently, patients were stratified into different fibrosis stages, finding that patients with cirrhosis who had LSM at least 40 kPa showed higher biomarker values of immune activation [T-cell activation (CD4+CD38+ and CD8+CD38+), bacterial translocation (lipopolysaccharide), inflammation (IL-8, IL-6, IP-10), endothelial dysfunction (sVCAM1, sICAM1, and sTNFR1), and coagulopathy (D-dimer)] than patients from the other three groups (<12.5, 12.5–25, and 25–40 kPa).

Conclusion:

T-cell activation, bacterial translocation, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and coagulopathy increased with the severity of liver fibrosis in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients, particularly in patients who had LSM at least 40 kPa.

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