Background and aims Liver disease in people living with HIV co-infected with hepatitis C virus is a source of morbidity and mortality in Russia. HIV accelerates liver fibrosis in the setting of HCV co-infection and alcohol use. Zinc deficiency is common among people living with HIV and may be a factor that facilitates the underlying mechanisms of liver fibrosis. We investigated the association between zinc deficiency and advanced liver fibrosis in a cohort of HIV/HCV co-infected persons reporting heavy drinking in Russia. Methods This is a secondary data analysis of baseline data from 204 anti-retroviral treatment naïve HIV/HCV co-infected Russians with heavy drinking that were recruited into a clinical trial of zinc supplementation. The primary outcome of interest in this cross-sectional study was advanced liver fibrosis. Zinc deficiency, the main independent variable, was defined as plasma zinc <0.75 mg/L. Exploratory analyses were performed examining continuous zinc levels and fibrosis scores. Analyses were conducted using multivariable regression models adjusted for potential confounders. Results The prevalence of advanced liver fibrosis was similar for those with zinc deficiency compared to those with normal zinc levels, (27.7% vs. 23.0%, respectively). We did not detect an association between zinc deficiency and advanced liver fibrosis in the adjusted regression model (aOR: 1.28, 95% CI: 0.62–2.61, p = 0.51) nor in exploratory analyses. Conclusions In this cohort of Russians with HIV/HCV co-infection, who are anti-retroviral treatment naïve and have heavy alcohol use, we did not detect an association between zinc deficiency or zinc levels and advanced liver fibrosis.
Barocas, J. A., So-Armah, K., Cheng, D. M., Lioznov, D., Baum, M., Gallagher, K., … Samet, J. H. (2019). Zinc deficiency and advanced liver fibrosis among HIV and hepatitis C co-infected antiretroviral naïve persons with alcohol use in Russia. PLoS ONE, 14(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218852