Sezione di Gastroenterologia e Epatologia, Di.Bi.M.I.S, Università di Palermo, Italia. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department of Medical, Surgical, Neurological, Geriatric, and Metabolic Sciences, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", 80100 Naples, Italy.
Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, Ca' Granda IRCCS Foundation, Policlinico Hospital, University of Milan, Italy.
Sezione di Gastroenterologia e Epatologia, Di.Bi.M.I.S, Università di Palermo, Italia.
Department of Biopathology and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.
Sezione di Medicina Interna con Stroke Care, Dipartimento Biomedico di Medicina Interna e Specialistica (Di.Bi.M.I.S), Università di Palermo, Italia.
BACKGROUND AND AIM:
Recent studies suggest an association between HCV infection and cardiovascular damage, including carotid atherosclerosis, with a possible effect of HCV clearance on cardiovascular outcomes. We aimed to examine whether HCV eradication by direct antiviral agents (DAA) improves carotid atherosclerosis in HCV-infected patients with advanced fibrosis/compensated cirrhosis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
One hundred eighty-two consecutive HCV patients with advanced fibrosis or compensated cirrhosis were evaluated by virological, anthropometric and metabolic measurements. All patients underwent DAA-based antiviral therapy according to AISF/EASL guidelines. Intima-media thickness (IMT), carotid thickening (IMT≥1 mm) and carotid plaques, defined as focal thickening of ≥ 1.5 mm at the level of common carotid, were evaluated by ultrasonography (US) at baseline and 9-12 months after the end of therapy.
Fifty-six percent of patients were males, mean age was 63.1±10.4 years and 65.9% had compensated cirrhosis. One patient out of five had diabetes, 14.3% were obese, 41.8% had arterial hypertension and 35.2% were smokers. Mean IMT was 0.94±0.29 mm, 42.9% had IMT≥1 mm, and 42.9% had carotid plaques. All patients achieved a 12-weeks sustained virological response. IMT significantly decreased from baseline to follow-up (0.94±0.29 mm vs. 0.81±0.27, p<0.001). Consistently, a significant reduction in the prevalence of patients with carotid thickening from baseline to follow-up was observed (42.8% vs. 17%, p<0.001), while no changes were reported for carotid plaques (42.8% vs. 47.8%, p=0.34). These results were confirmed in sub-groups of patients stratified for cardiovascular risk factors and liver disease severity.
HCV eradication by DAA improves carotid atherosclerosis in patients with severe fibrosis without or with additional metabolic risk factors. The impact of this improvement in the atherosclerotic burden in terms of reduction of major cardiovascular outcomes is worth investigating in the long term.
LAY OF SUMMARY:
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) eradication by direct antiviral agents improves carotid atherosclerosis in patients with advanced fibrosis/compensated cirrhosis The improvement in intima-media thickness and carotid thickening was confirmed after stratification for severity of liver disease and cardiovascular risk factors HCV eradication by DAA also lead to improvement in glucose homeostasis and increase in cholesterol levels.