Predictors and effects of alcohol use on liver function among young HCV-infected injection drug users in a behavioral intervention

University of California, San Diego, Department of Medicine, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Journal of Hepatology (Impact Factor: 11.34). 11/2010; 55(1):45-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhep.2010.10.028
Source: PubMed


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening can provide opportunities to reduce disease progression through counseling against alcohol use, but empirical data on this issue are sparse. We determined the efficacy of a behavioral intervention in reducing alcohol use among young, HCV-infected injection drug users (IDUs) (n=355) and assessed whether changes in liver enzymes were associated with changes in alcohol consumption.
Both the intervention and attention-control groups were counseled to avoid alcohol use, but the intervention group received enhanced counseling. Logistic regression, ANOVA, and continuous time Markov models were used to identify factors associated with alcohol use, changes in mean ALT and AST levels, and change in alcohol use post-intervention.
Six months post-intervention, alcohol abstinence increased 22.7% in both groups, with no difference by intervention arm. Transition from alcohol use to abstinence was associated with a decrease in liver enzymes, with a marginally greater decrease in the intervention group (p=0.05 for ALT; p=0.06 for AST). In multivariate Markov models, those who used marijuana transitioned from alcohol abstinence to consumption more rapidly than non-users (RR=3.11); those who were homeless transitioned more slowly to alcohol abstinence (RR=0.47); and those who had ever received a clinical diagnosis of liver disease transitioned more rapidly to abstinence (RR=1.88).
Although, behavioral counseling to reduce alcohol consumption among HCV-infected IDUs had a modest effect, reductions in alcohol consumption were associated with marked improvements in liver function. Interventions to reduce alcohol use among HCV-infected IDUs may benefit from being integrated into clinical care and monitoring of HCV infection.

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Available from: Steffanie A Strathdee
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    • "In addition, the results are, in part, supported by the elevated AST, AST to ALT ratios, and higher proportions of ALT observed in patients on anti-retroviral treatment [10-12]. Since a large number of the injection heroin users in the present study were concomitantly consuming alcohol and khat, it is possible that these non-injection substances synergistically promote the alterations in the ALT levels [10,29]. Importantly, the inverse correlations of absolute ALT levels and the CD4+ T cell counts in the HIV sero-negative injection heroin users, suggests that the CD4+ T cell count can also be utilized as a surrogate marker of liver function in the management of HIV negative heroin users. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Although the co-burden of injection drug use and HIV is increasing in Africa, little is known about the laboratory markers of injection drug use and anti-retroviral treatment (ART) in Kenyan injection drug users. This study, therefore, aimed at determining the clinical chemistry profiles and identifying the key laboratory markers of HIV infection during ART in injection heroin users (IHUs). Methods Clinical chemistry measurements were performed on serum samples collected from HIV-1 infected ART-experienced (n = 22), naive (n = 16) and HIV-1 negative (n = 23) IHUs, and healthy controls (n = 15) from Mombasa, coastal Kenya. Results HIV uninfected IHUs had lower alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels (P = 0.023) as ART-exposed IHUs exhibited lower albumin (P = 0.014) and higher AST to platelet index (APRI) (P < 0.0001). All IHUs presented with lower aspartate aminotransferase to ALT values (P = 0.001) and higher C-reactive protein (CRP) levels (P = 0.002). ART-naive IHUs had higher globulin levels (P = 0.013) while ART-experienced and naive IHUs had higher albumin to total protein (P < 0.0001) and albumin to globulin (P < 0.0001) values. In addition, CD4+ T cells correlated with ALT (ρ = −0.522, P = 0.011) and CRP (rho, ρ = 0.529, P = 0.011) in HIV negative and ART-experienced IHUs, respectively. HIV-1 viral load correlated with albumin to globulin index in ART-experienced (ρ = −0.468, P = 0.037) and naive (ρ = −0.554, P = 0.040) IHUs; and with albumin to total protein index (ρ = −0.554, P = 0.040) and globulin (ρ = 0.570, P = 0.033) in ART-naive IHUs. Conclusion Absolute ALT, albumin, globulin, and CRP measurements in combination with APRI, AST to ALT, albumin to total protein and albumin to globulin indices may be useful laboratory markers for screening IHUs for initiating and monitoring treatment.
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