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1.  Differential cognitive impairment in HCV coinfected men with controlled HIV compared to HCV monoinfection 
Individuals infected with both HIV and HCV have shown impaired performance on different neuropsychological (NP) tests; however, whether coinfected individuals with controlled HIV and minimal liver damage in the era of antiretroviral therapy have impairment is understudied.
Nineteen HCV monoinfected, 17 HIV/HCV coinfected and 17 control male participants were evaluated for depression, attention, executive function, information processing, fine motor speed, and verbal/visual learning/memory. Eleven controls and 14 HIV monoinfected participants with controlled viral load from a previous study were also included for comparison. At time of testing, participants were not using drugs or alcohol and did not have cirrhosis. A global deficit score (GDS) was calculated from 7 domains of NP tests and alterations in specific domains were determined.
HIV/HCV subjects had a higher depression score (11.1±7.5) than controls (5.4±4.1, p=0.010) and a higher GDS score (0.77±0.47) than HCV (0.46±0.34, p=0.036), HIV (0.45±0.36, p=0.008) and controls (0.30±0.29, p=0.001). Coinfection was associated with worse scores in attention working memory (p=0.007), executive function (p=0.01), fine motor function (p=0.011), verbal learning/memory (p<0.001) and visual learning/memory (p<0.001) compared to controls. Within the HCV group, viral load was associated with lower attention, executive function and information processing speed and positively with GDS.
Coinfection significantly increased the risk of cognitive impairment in subjects with controlled HIV viral loads. In HCV monoinfected but not coinfected subjects, HCV viral load correlated with worsening GDS, suggesting different pathways for neuropsychological impairment.
PMCID: PMC3587125  PMID: 23187938
2.  Impaired Lymphocyte Reactivity Measured by Immune Function Testing in Untransplanted Patients with Cirrhosis 
The immune function test is an integrated measure of total mitogen-inducible CD4+ T cell metabolic activity in the peripheral blood, and it is used to guide the dosing of immunosuppressive medications after solid organ transplantation. Recently, low CD4+ T cell metabolic activity due to pharmacologic immunosuppression has been linked to rapidly progressive cirrhosis in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected liver transplant recipients. We speculate that either cirrhosis or HCV might adversely affect the CD4+ T cell reactivity even in the absence of immunosuppressive medications. We thus performed this assay on a cohort of untransplanted hepatology patients who were not taking immunomodulatory drugs. Low mitogen-stimulated CD4+ T cell metabolic reactivity was more commonly seen in untransplanted patients with HCV cirrhosis or with cirrhosis due to other causes but not in control patients or in those with chronic HCV in the absence of cirrhosis. The lowest mean CD4+ T cell reactivities were seen in patients with both cirrhosis and HCV. Caution should be exercised when immune function test results are used to guide immunomodulatory therapy in transplant recipients with suspected cirrhosis, as low immune function test results may be a consequence of hepatic cirrhosis or of pharmacologic immunosuppression.
PMCID: PMC3623409  PMID: 23389930
3.  Monocyte Activation in HIV/HCV Coinfection Correlates with Cognitive Impairment 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55776.
Coinfection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) challenges the immune system with two viruses that elicit distinct immune responses. Chronic immune activation is a hallmark of HIV infection and an accurate indicator of disease progression. Suppressing HIV viremia by antiretroviral therapy (ART) effectively prolongs life and significantly improves immune function. HIV/HCV coinfected individuals have peripheral immune activation despite effective ART control of HIV viral load. Here we examined freshly isolated CD14 monocytes for gene expression using high-density cDNA microarrays and analyzed T cell subsets, CD4 and CD8, by flow cytometry to characterize immune activation in monoinfected HCV and HIV, and HIV-suppressed coinfected subjects. To determine the impact of coinfection on cognition, subjects were evaluated in 7 domains for neuropsychological performance, which were summarized as a global deficit score (GDS). Monocyte gene expression analysis in HIV-suppressed coinfected subjects identified 43 genes that were elevated greater than 2.5 fold. Correlative analysis of subjects’ GDS and gene expression found eight genes with significance after adjusting for multiple comparisons. Correlative expression of six genes was confirmed by qPCR, five of which were categorized as type 1 IFN response genes. Global deficit scores were not related to plasma lipopolysaccharide levels. In the T cell compartment, coinfection significantly increased expression of activation markers CD38 and HLADR on both CD4 and CD8 T cells but did not correlate with GDS. These findings indicate that coinfection is associated with a type 1 IFN monocyte activation profile which was further found to correlate with cognitive impairment, even in subjects with controlled HIV infection. HIV-suppressed coinfected subjects with controlled HIV viral load experiencing immune activation could benefit significantly from successful anti-HCV therapy and may be considered as preferential candidates.
PMCID: PMC3578833  PMID: 23437063
4.  The Human Fetal Immune Response to Hepatitis C Virus Exposure in Utero 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(2):196-206.
Background. Although the rate of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is low, the effect of HCV exposure in utero on the fetal immune system is unknown.
Methods. Umbilical cord blood was obtained from 7 neonates born to HCV-seropositive, HCV RNA-positive women and 8 neonates born to HCV-seronegative women. Cord blood mononuclear cells were analyzed by immunophenotyping and by intracellular cytokine staining after HCV-specific and polyclonal stimulation. Plasma was analyzed for anti-HCV immunoglobulin M (IgM), cytokine/granzyme concentrations, and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) activity.
Results. HCV-exposed neonates had significantly lower levels of regulatory T cells expressing HLA-DR, lower CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation, and lower plasma levels of pro-inflammatory markers than did controls. However, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from HCV-exposed neonates had higher IFN-γ production in response to polyclonal stimulation than did T cells from controls. IDO activity was similar between groups. No HCV-specific T cell responses or anti-HCV IgM were detected in any neonates.
Conclusions. HCV-exposed neonates showed a relative suppression of immune activation and pro-inflammatory markers, which was counterbalanced by an increased production capacity for IFN-γ. These results suggest that HCV encounters the fetal immune system in utero, and alters the balance between suppressive and pro-inflammatory responses.
PMCID: PMC3071071  PMID: 21288819
5.  Progression of Biopsy-Measured Liver Fibrosis in Untreated Patients with Hepatitis C Infection: Non-Markov Multistate Model Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20104.
Fibrosis stages from liver biopsies reflect liver damage from hepatitis C infection, but analysis is challenging due to their ordered but non-numeric nature, infrequent measurement, misclassification, and unknown infection times.
We used a non-Markov multistate model, accounting for misclassification, with multiple imputation of unknown infection times, applied to 1062 participants of whom 159 had multiple biopsies. Odds ratios (OR) quantified the estimated effects of covariates on progression risk at any given time.
Models estimated that progression risk decreased the more time participants had already spent in the current stage, African American race was protective (OR 0.75, 95% confidence interval 0.60 to 0.95, p = 0.018), and older current age increased risk (OR 1.33 per decade, 95% confidence interval 1.15 to 1.54, p = 0.0002). When controlled for current age, older age at infection did not appear to increase risk (OR 0.92 per decade, 95% confidence interval 0.47 to 1.79, p = 0.80). There was a suggestion that co-infection with human immunodeficiency virus increased risk of progression in the era of highly active antiretroviral treatment beginning in 1996 (OR 2.1, 95% confidence interval 0.97 to 4.4, p = 0.059). Other examined risk factors may influence progression risk, but evidence for or against this was weak due to wide confidence intervals. The main results were essentially unchanged using different assumed misclassification rates or imputation of age of infection.
The analysis avoided problems inherent in simpler methods, supported the previously suspected protective effect of African American race, and suggested that current age rather than age of infection increases risk. Decreasing risk of progression with longer time already spent in a stage was also previously found for post-transplant progression. This could reflect varying disease activity, with recent progression indicating active disease and high risk, while longer time already spent in a stage indicates quiescent disease and low risk.
PMCID: PMC3103523  PMID: 21637766
6.  Non-Markov Multistate Modeling Using Time-Varying Covariates, with Application to Progression of Liver Fibrosis due to Hepatitis C Following Liver Transplant* 
Multistate modeling methods are well-suited for analysis of some chronic diseases that move through distinct stages. The memoryless or Markov assumptions typically made, however, may be suspect for some diseases, such as hepatitis C, where there is interest in whether prognosis depends on history. This paper describes methods for multistate modeling where transition risk can depend on any property of past progression history, including time spent in the current stage and the time taken to reach the current stage. Analysis of 901 measurements of fibrosis in 401 patients following liver transplantation found decreasing risk of progression as time in the current stage increased, even when controlled for several fixed covariates. Longer time to reach the current stage did not appear associated with lower progression risk. Analysis of simulation scenarios based on the transplant study showed that greater misclassification of fibrosis produced more technical difficulties in fitting the models and poorer estimation of covariate effects than did less misclassification or error-free fibrosis measurement. The higher risk of progression when less time has been spent in the current stage could be due to varying disease activity over time, with recent progression indicating an “active” period and consequent higher risk of further progression.
PMCID: PMC2836212  PMID: 20305705
fibrosis; hepatitis C; liver transplant; memoryless assumptions; multistate modeling
7.  Hepatocellular carcinoma after sustained virologic response in hepatitis C patients without cirrhosis on a pre-treatment liver biopsy 
Among hepatitis C patients, lack of cirrhosis and sustained virologic response reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Japanese studies document multiple cases of hepatocellular carcinoma among these patients, but only one case has been reported outside of Asia. We identified five patients with hepatitis C in our university-based hepatology practice who developed hepatocellular carcinoma despite sustained virologic response and lack of cirrhosis on their pre-treatment liver biopsy. At the time of hepatocellular carcinoma diagnosis, two remained noncirrhotic, one had clearly progressed to cirrhosis, and two lacked repeat histology. We present these patients in a case series format and discuss several important implications of their cases. Physicians often base screening and treatment decisions on an initial liver biopsy performed years prior. Because fibrosis may advance, and because sustained virologic response and lack of cirrhosis do not fully protect against hepatocellular carcinoma, future study should further evaluate the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma among hepatitis C patients after SVR.
PMCID: PMC2744965  PMID: 19212213
hepatitis C; hepatocellular carcinoma; interferon; ribavirin; screening; sustained virologic response
8.  Association of Hepatitis C Virus Seropositivity With Inflammatory Markers and Heart Failure in Persons With Coronary Heart Disease: Data From the Heart and Soul Study 
Journal of cardiac failure  2009;15(5):451-456.
How hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors and outcomes is largely unknown.
Methods and Results
Among a cohort of patients with stable CHD, we examined the association between HCV seropositivity and levels of inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein [CRP], fibrinogen, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-α) and risk for the following outcomes: death, cardiovascular (CV) events, and heart failure events. A total of 84 (8.6%) participants were found to be seropositive for HCV. HCV-seropositive patients were found to have significantly lower adjusted mean levels of CRP (2.6 vs. 4.4; P <.01) and fibrinogen (340 vs. 398; P <.01), but higher levels of TNF-α (7.1 vs. 4.8; P <.01). Age-adjusted rates for HCV seropositive vs. seronegative were as follows: death 93 vs. 42/1,000 p-y (P <.01), CV events 62 vs. 40 (P = .13), and heart failure 76 vs. 29 (P <.01). After adjustment for demographic and clinical factors, HCV remained significantly associated with an increased risk for heart failure events (HR =2.13; 95% CI: 1.19–3.80).
In this cohort with CHD, HCV seropositive participants had higher rates of death, CVevents, and heart failure hospitalizations during follow-up. After adjustment for CV risk factors, HCV seropositivity remained independently associated with risk for heart failure events.
PMCID: PMC2782758  PMID: 19477406
Hepatitis C virus; inflammatory markers; heart failure

Results 1-9 (9)