OBJECTIVE: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection is recognized as a major cause of morbidity and mortality among HIV-1 infected patients. Our understanding of the impact of HIV infection on HCV specific immune responses and liver disease outcome is limited by the heterogeneous study populations with genetically diverse infecting viruses, varying duration of infection and anti-viral treatment. METHODS: Viral-specific immune responses in a cohort of 151 HCV mono- and HIV co-infected former plasma donors infected with a narrow source of virus were studied. HCV and HIV specific T cell responses were correlated with clinical data. RESULTS: HIV-1 accelerated liver disease progression and decreased HCV specific T cell immunity. The magnitude of HCV specific T cell responses inversely correlated with lower HCV RNA load and reduced liver injury as assessed by non-invasive markers of liver fibrosis. HIV co-infection reduced the frequency of HCV specific CD4+ T cells with no detectable effect on CD8+ T cells or neutralizing antibody levels. CONCLUSION: Our study highlights the impact of HIV co-infection on HCV specific CD4+ T cell responses in a unique cohort of patients for both HCV and HIV and suggests a crucial role for these cells in controlling chronic HCV replication and liver disease progression.
Adult, Aged, Antibodies, Neutralizing, Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active, Biomarkers, Blood Donors, China, Coinfection, Disease Progression, Female, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Hepacivirus, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis C Antibodies, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Liver Cirrhosis, Male, Middle Aged, T-Cell Antigen Receptor Specificity, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, Viral Load, Virus Replication