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Open Access Research

HCV RNA viral load is independent from CD4 cell count and plasma HIV RNA viral load in immunocompetent HIV-HCV co-infected patients: a 3-years follow-up study

Monica Basso1, Marzia Franzetti1, Renzo Scaggiante1, Andrea Sattin1, Carlo Mengoli1, Mario Cruciani2, Marta Fiscon1, Giorgio Palù1 and Saverio Giuseppe Parisi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Padova, Via Gabelli 63, 35100 Padova, Italy

2 Center of Community & Medicine and HIV Outpatient Clinic, Verona, Italy

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AIDS Research and Therapy 2014, 11:21  doi:10.1186/1742-6405-11-21

Published: 29 July 2014

Abstract

Background

HCV RNA viral load is an important predictor of sustained virological response and, recently, a significant correlation with liver fibrosis was described. We investigated on possible influence of clinical and viro-immunological variables on HCV viral load in HIV-HCV co-infected patients over a study time of three years (2009-2012).

Methods

We retrospectively enrolled 98 adult patients with a diagnosis of chronic HIV infection in 2009, a diagnosis of chronic HCV infection with a detectable plasma HCV RNA in 2009 and 2012, HCV therapy-naïve or with failed and stopped antiviral treatment before June 2008. The following variables were recorded: age, gender, HCV genotype, IL28B rs12979860 CC genotype, HCV treatment status, advanced liver fibrosis diagnosis, antiretroviral therapy, CD4+ cell count, HCV viral load, HIV RNA (plasma HIV-1 RNA levels were measured from blood samples every three months at least). The correlation was established using linear regression analysis, analysis of variance and Fisher’s exact test. Comparisons between groups were performed using Fisher’s exact test, the independent samples t-test and the t-test for paired data, as appropriate, for continuous variables. A mixed mode (ME) maximum likelihood linear regression model was constructed to evaluate the dependence of HCV viral load.

Results

HCV RNA levels did not change significantly from 2009 to 2012 (from 3924650 ± 5320177 IU/ml to 3085128 ± 3372347 IU/ml, p = 0.13); the CD4+ count increased significantly (from a mean of 576 to a mean of 654, p = 0.003). Using linear regression, a positive correlation was observed for HCV load and genotype 1 (p = 0.002), nonresponder status (p = 0.04) and with interleukin 28B CC allele (p = 0.05). Other studied covariates failed to reach a significant correlation.

Conclusions

The HCV RNA load, a known pretreatment predictor of response to antiviral therapy, was independent of the two main parameters of HIV disease, plasma HIV RNA and CD4 cell count, over an observation time of 3 years in patients with recovered or spontaneously maintained immunocompetence.

Keywords:
HIV RNA; HCV RNA; Follow-up; Interleukin 28B CC allele; HCV genotype 1