Risk factors for fibrosis progression in HIV/HCV coinfected patients from a retrospective analysis of liver biopsies in 1985-2002

M Schiavini, E Angeli, A Mainini, P Zerbi, P G Duca, G Gubertini, L Vago, P Fociani, R Giorgi, A Cargnel
HIV Medicine 2006, 7 (5): 331-7

OBJECTIVES: To identify predictive factors for moderate/severe liver fibrosis and to analyse fibrosis progression in paired liver biopsies from HIV-positive patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

METHODS: HIV/HCV coinfected patients followed at the 2nd Department of Infectious Diseases of L. Sacco Hospital in Milan, Italy, with at least one liver biopsy specimen were retrospectively evaluated.

RESULTS: A total of 110 patients were enrolled in the study. In a univariate analysis, predictive factors of Ishak-Knodell stage > or =3 were a history of alcohol abuse [odds ratio (OR) 3.6, P=0.004], alanine aminotransferase level >100 IU/L at biopsy (OR 2.4, P=0.05), necro-inflammatory grade > or =9 (OR 37.14, P<0.0001) and CD4 count <350 cells/microL at nadir (OR 5.3, P=0.05). In a multivariate analysis, age >35 years (OR 3.19, P=0.04) and alcohol abuse (OR 4.36, P=0.002) remained independently associated with Ishak-Knodell stage. Paired liver biopsies were available in 36 patients; 18 showed an increase of at least one stage in the subsequent liver biopsy. Either in a univariate or in a multivariate analysis, a decrease of CD4 cell count of more than 10% between two biopsies (OR 6.85, P=0.002) was significantly associated with liver fibrosis progression.

CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight the relevance of encouraging a withdrawal of alcohol consumption in people with chronic HCV infection and of carrying out close follow-up of patients, especially if they are more than 35 years old. It is therefore mandatory to evaluate HIV/HCV coinfected patients for anti-HCV treatment and to increase CD4 cell count through antiretroviral therapy in order to reduce the risk of fibrosis progression and to slow the evolution of liver disease.

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