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Virology. 1998 May 10;244(2):504-12.

Evidence that both HIV and HIV-induced immunodeficiency enhance HCV replication among HCV seroconverters.

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Department of Human Retrovirology, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. M.Beld@AMC.UvA.NL


The objective of this retrospective cohort study is to assess the mechanism by which human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) influences hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication in injecting drug users. Virological (HCV and HIV RNA levels) and immunological (CD4+, CD8+ cell counts, and anti-CD3 reactivity) parameters were determined in 19 HCV seroconverters in sequential samples over a period of 1 to 9 years. Among these subjects, 10 were HIV-seronegative (HIVneg), 4 were HIV-seropositive (HIVpos), and 5 seroconverted for HIV (HIVsc) during the observation period. HCV RNA levels were higher in HIVpos subjects than in HIVneg subjects. In subjects seroconverting for HIV, HCV, RNA levels increased significantly immediately after HIV seroconversion (P < 0.0001), while they remained stable over time in HIVpos and HIVneg subjects. HCV RNA correlated inversely with CD4+ cell counts in both the HIVpos population (R = -0.22, P < 0.05) and the HIVneg population (R = -0.45, P < 0.0001). In addition, when subjects were stratified according to CD4+ cell counts a significant difference was found in HCV RNA levels between HIVpos and HIVneg subjects with CD4+ cell counts > 500 cells/microliter (P = 0.001), but not in the population with CD4+ cell counts < 500 cells/microliter. In no population was a correlation found between HCV RNA levels and CD8+ cell counts or anti-CD3 reactivity. Both HIV infection and CD4+ cell counts are apparently associated with HCV RNA levels. The direct association, independent of CD4+ cell counts, between HIV infection and HCV replication appears to be stronger than the association between HIV-induced CD4+ cell decline and HCV replication. We conclude that (i) HCV replication is in some way directly influenced by the presence of HIV; (ii) HCV-specific host immunity controls, in part, HCV replication; and (iii) HCV replication increases when the immune system is impaired by HIV.

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