Background: Microbial translocation (MT) contributes to immune activation during HIV and HCV infections. We investigated the kinetics of MT markers during anti-HCV and anti-HIV treatments, and if baseline plasma levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP) and soluble CD14 (sCD14) could predict anti-HCV treatment outcome.
Methods: Plasma from 78 HIV-infected patients was evaluated for LPS, LBP and sCD14. The patients starting anti-HCV treatment (with ongoing antiretroviral (ART) treatment) were categorized into sustained viral responders (SVR; n = 21) or non-responders (NR; n = 15) based on treatment outcome. ART starting subjects--were categorized into chronically HCV-infected (CH; n = 24) and mono-infected (HIV; n = 18), based on the HCV infection status. Samples were collected before start (at baseline) of pegylated-interferon-alpha/ribavirin (peg-IFN/RBV) or antiretroviral-therapy and two years after treatment start (at follow up). χ2-test, non-parametric statistics and logistic regression were applied to determine the associations with treatment response and changes of the soluble markers.
Results: Plasma levels of LPS and sCD14 were elevated in all subjects before antiviral-treatment but remained unchanged at follow-up. Elevated levels of LBP were present in patients with HIV and HIV/HCV co-infection and were reduced by ART. Additionally, higher levels of LBP were present at baseline in NR vs. SVR. Higher levels of LBP at baseline were associated with non-response to peg-IFN/RBV treatment in both bivariate (OR: 0.19 95% CI: 0.06-0.31, p = 0.004) and multivariate analysis (OR: 1.43, 95% CI: 1.1-1.86, p = 0.07).
Conclusion: In HIV/HCV co-infected patients high baseline LBP levels are associated with non-response to peg-IFN/RBV therapy. Plasma LBP (decreased by ART) may be a more relevant MT marker than LPS and sCD14.