In this study, researchers from California, USA, analyzed the effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on HCV load and quasispecies diversity.
The team assessed patients coinfected with the HIV and HCV.
They retrospectively analyzed 3 patient cohorts over a period of 7 to 10 months:
- Group A was antiretroviral drug naïve at baseline, then on HAART for the remainder of the study.
- Group B did not receive antiretroviral therapy at any point.
- Group C was on HAART for the entire course of the study.
The research team analyzed HCV quasispecies diversity by sequencing hypervariable region 1.
|CD4+-cell count was positively correlated with HCV load, genetic distance, and Ka.|
|Journal of Virology|
They found no significant change from baseline in any immunologic, virologic, or quasispecies parameter in any of the 3 groups.
However, group C showed significantly higher CD4+- and CD8+-cell counts, higher HCV load, and increased HCV clones, entropy, and genetic distance. The ratio of nonsynonymous substitutions per nonsynonymous site, to synonymous substitutions per synonymous site (Ka/Ks) was also increased in this group.
Furthermore, CD4+-cell count was positively correlated with HCV load, genetic distance, and Ka.
Patients infected with HCV genotype 2 or 3 had a significantly higher CD4+-cell count, HCV load, genetic distance, and Ka/Ks than those infected with genotype 1.
Drs Jennifer Babik and Mark Holodniy concluded, “These results suggest that there is no immediate effect of HAART on HCV but that, with prolonged HAART, immune restoration results in an increase in HCV load and quasispecies diversity”.