Combined effects of alcohol and hepatitis C: A secondary analysis of alcohol use biomarkers and high-risk behaviors from two medication trials for alcohol dependence

Division on Addictions, Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, United States
Addictive behaviors (Impact Factor: 2.76). 02/2010; 35(2):123-128. DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2009.09.012


ObjectivesThe goal of this secondary analysis was to examine the combined effects of HCV infection and recent alcohol use on baseline biologic markers of alcohol consumption in two outpatient medication trials for alcohol dependence. In addition, the relationship between Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and behavioral risk factors for HCV infection in these clinical populations were examined.MethodsData (n = 345) from two randomized, placebo-controlled trials of naltrexone and psychosocial treatment for alcohol dependence (Study I, n = 212) and comorbid alcohol and cocaine dependence (Study II, n = 133) were used to examine baseline measures of HCV risk behaviors (injection drug use, needle sharing), and biomarkers of alcohol use (AST, ALT, GGT and CDT) were compared by HCV serostatus first within each study and then across studies.ResultsAlthough groups had differing sociodemographic profiles (as indicated by race, marital status, level of education) subjects in Study I exhibited no statistically significant differences from the Study II cohort in HCV prevalence (12.7 vs. 20.0%, p = 0.07), lifetime history of injection drug use (13.8 vs. 22.0%, p = 0.74), lifetime history of needle sharing (9.1 vs. 18.0%, p = 0.62). As such, the data from both studies were analyzed together. Regardless of drinking status, HCV infection was significantly associated with an upward shift in the baseline level of ALT, AST, and GGT (p < 0.006 for all measures) and a downward shift in baseline CDT (p = 0.002). When using standard laboratory cutoff values to determine clinically significant elevations, HCV seropositivity was significantly associated with elevations in ALT, AST, GGT (p < 0.001), and with decreases in CDT (p = .002).ConclusionsThese data emphasize the importance of evaluating HCV infection and HCV risk behaviors at intake in medication trials for alcohol dependence and also raise questions regarding the use of cutoff scores for ALT, AST, GGT and CDT levels as biologic markers of alcohol use in subjects when HCV status is unknown.

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    • "In some studies, low baseline GGT level was shown to be an independent predictor of a SVR.9-11,13,15,17 However, these studies did not fully evaluate other confounding factors, such as the presence of hepatosteatosis,19,21,22 bile duct injury,19,23 the degree of liver fibrosis,11,20 alcohol abuse,18,24 and gender,17 which might affect both GGT levels and SVR rates. "
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    ABSTRACT: Low gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) level was shown to be an independent predictor of a sustained virological response (SVR) in chronic hepatitis C. We aimed to determine factors associated with high GGT level, and to evaluate whether low GGT level is an independent predictor of a SVR in chronic hepatitis C genotype 1. We retrospectively reviewed our data of patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 treated with pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin. Baseline features were compared between patients with normal and high GGT levels. Factors associated with high GGT level and those associated with a SVR were determined by univariate and multivariate analysis. This study included 57 patients. Mean age was 52.28±9.35 years. GGT levels was elevated in 27 patients (47.4%). GGT levels were normal in 63.3% of the patients who achieved a SVR and in 40.7% of those who did not achieve a SVR (p>0.05). By multivariate logistic regression analysis, the presence of cirrhosis (odds ratio [OR], 9.41; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08 to 102.61) and female gender (OR, 6.77; 95% CI, 1.23 to 37.20) were significantly associated with high GGT level, and only rapid virological response was associated with a SVR (OR, 8.369; 95% CI, 1.82 to 38.48). Low GGT level does not predict a SVR; however, it may be a predictor of high fibrosis scores.
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To determine the prevalence rates of hepatitis C in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder being treated with clozapine. Methods: Clozapine-treated outpatients and inpatients were recruited from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Schizophrenia Program in Toronto, Canada. All subjects had liver function tests, and positive HCV status was defined as a positive qualitative HCV RNA assay. Subjects completed a self-report questionnaire assessing HCV risk factors, past history of liver disease, previous diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), past hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and current alcohol use. Results: 110 subjects participated in the study and the HCV prevalence rate (antibody and viremia-positive) was 2.7%, compared to a 0.8% prevalence rate in Canada. All study subjects had established housing, none reported a history of HIV, and only one patient had a history of HBV infection. A total of 9% drank two or more drinks on a typical day drinking and 7% endorsed having six or more drinks on one occasion at least monthly. Two of 3 HCV-viremia positive subjects had HCV risk factors, specifically intravenous drug use and intranasal cocaine use. There was no difference between HCV infected and HCV negative subjects on liver function tests. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates elevated rates of HCV in clozapine-treated patients compared to the general population in Canada and are congruent with reports from United States centres. Our study highlights the importance of homelessness and patterns of high-risk behaviour when interpreting HCV prevalence rates in this sub-population of patients and should be explored in future studies.
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    ABSTRACT: In heroin dependent individuals, the HIV epidemic has been controlled in countries where access to opioid maintenance treatment (OMT) and needle exchange programs (NEP) have been implemented. However, despite similar routes of contamination for both viruses, the prevalence of hepatitis C (HCV) infection remains high in drug users. The objective of this analysis was to identify the prevalence of HCV and the correlates of being HCV-positive in a sample of out-of-treatment heroin-dependent individuals. Data were collected from five inpatient studies (n = 120 participants) conducted at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. A logistic regression was used to identify correlates of being HCV-positive at baseline. Among the 120 heroin-dependent volunteers, 42 were HCV-positive. Participants who had heavier alcohol use, a longer duration of heroin use, or who reported using heroin by injection were more likely to be HCV-positive. Interestingly, participants who had injected cocaine during the previous month had a ninefold greater risk of being HCV-positive compared to non-cocaine users and those who used cocaine by a non-injecting route. These findings confirm the risk of being HCV-infected through intravenous drug use, especially with cocaine use. These results underscore the importance of rethinking interventions to prevent HCV infection with combined strategies using pharmacological approaches for cocaine dependence and tailored prevention for cocaine users. (Am J Addict 2013;22:613-618).
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · American Journal on Addictions
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