Macrophage Activation and the Tumor Necrosis Factor Cascade in Hepatitis C Disease Progression Among HIV-Infected Women Participating in the Women's Interagency HIV Study

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HIV/hepatitis C–coinfected persons experience more rapid liver disease progression than hepatitis C virus (HCV) monoinfected persons, even in the setting of potent antiretroviral therapy.


We sought to articulate the role of macrophage activation and inflammation in liver disease progression by measuring serial soluble markers in HIV/HCV-coinfected women. We compared markers measured during retrospectively defined periods of rapid liver disease progression to periods where little or no liver disease progression occurred. Liver disease progression was defined by liver biopsy, liver-related death or the serum markers AST-to-platelet ratio index and FIB-4. Soluble CD14, sCD163, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor II, interleukin-6, and chemokine ligand 2 (CCL 2) were measured at 3 time points over 5 years.


One hundred six time intervals were included in the analysis: including 31 from liver disease progressors and 75 from nonprogressors. LPS, sCD14, interleukin-6, and CCL2 levels did not differ in slope or quantity over time between rapid liver disease progressors and nonprogressors. TNFRII and sCD163 were significantly higher in liver disease progressors at (P = 0.002 and <0.0001 respectively) and preceding (P = 0.01 and 0.003 respectively) the liver fibrosis outcome in unadjusted models, with similar values when adjusted for HIV RNA and CD4 count.


In women with HIV/HCV coinfection, higher sCD163 levels, a marker of macrophage activation, and TNFRII levels, implying activation of the TNF-α system, were associated with liver disease progression. Our results provide an addition to the growing body of evidence regarding the relationship between macrophage activation, inflammation, and liver disease progression in HIV/HCV coinfection.

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