Background: Biomarkers of monocyte activation (soluble CD14 [sCD14]), inflammation (interleukin-6 [IL-6]), and altered coagulation (D-dimer) are associated with increased mortality risk in people with HIV. The objective of the Russia Alcohol Research Collaboration on HIV/AIDS (ARCH) study was to evaluate the association between heavy alcohol use and inflammatory biomarkers over time.
Methods: The study sought antiretroviral therapy naive participants with HIV (n = 350) and assessed them at baseline, 12 and 24 months. Linear mixed effects models were used to determine whether heavy drinking (self-report augmented by phosphatidylethanol [PEth], an alcohol biomarker) was longitudinally associated with IL-6, sCD14 and D-dimer adjusting for potential confounders (e.g., demographics, HIV factors, comorbid conditions).
Results: Participants' baseline characteristics were as follows: 71% male; mean age of 34 years; 87% self-reported hepatitis C; and 86% current smokers. Mean log10 (HIV RNA) was 4.3 copies/mL. Heavy alcohol use, based on National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism risky drinking criteria and PEth (versus non-heavy alcohol use) was associated with higher sCD14 (adjusted mean difference 125 ng/mL [95% CI: 42, 209]), IL-6 (ratio of means 1.35 [95% CI: 1.17, 1.55] pg/mL), and D-dimer (ratio of means 1.20 [95% CI: 1.06, 1.37] ug/mL) across the two-year follow-up.
Conclusion: Among HIV+ adults, current heavy alcohol use is associated with higher sCD14, IL-6 and D-dimer over time. Since these biomarkers are associated with mortality, interventions to mitigate effects of heavy drinking on these immune processes merit consideration.