The Roles of Fibrosis Index Based on Four Factors and Aspartate Transaminase-to-Platelet Ratio Index Scoring Systems as an Alternative to Transient Elastography Liver Stiffness in Liver Fibrosis Staging in Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis C Virus Co-Infected Patients

Susanne Ajao, Dawn Roach, Kok Hoe Chan, Kundana Thimmanagari, Ala Muhanna, Monica Mutyala, Saraswathi Lakasanni, Jihad Slim


Background: Liver biopsy used to be the gold standard to assess liver fibrosis in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Nonetheless, due to its invasive nature, techniques such as transient elastography liver stiffness (TE-LS), fibrosis index based on four factors (FIB-4) and aspartate transaminase-to-platelet ratio index (APRI) scores are currently being used. FIB-4 and APRI scores have the advantage of low cost and are readily available, compared with TE-LS. Herein, we evaluated the diagnostic performance of these scoring systems as compared to TE-LS in assessing liver fibrosis in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and HCV co-infection.

Methods: The medical records of patients with HIV and HCV co-infection who had TE-LS done at our facility between August 1, 2013 and January 1, 2020 were extracted and analyzed. Exclusion criteria include: 1) patients co-infected with hepatitis B virus; 2) invalid TE-LS assessment; 3) have >= 10th upper limit of normal (ULN) alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels; and 4) excessive alcohol use. Patient demographics, medical history, biochemical and clinical data were retrieved. For each patient, we calculated the FIB-4 and APRI score. Descriptive analysis was performed and correlation of FIB-4 and APRI with TE-LS was assessed with GraphPad Prism statistical software.

Results: Five hundred forty-seven patients underwent TE-LS during the study period. After excluding those without complete laboratory parameters, the total study population was 344. Their age was 56 ± 10.4 years and 234 (68%) were male. The average aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and ALT were 27.95 and 30.73. The average platelet count was 224 and the average TE-LS was 7.29. Fourteen patients (4.1%) had TE-LS values between 9 and 11.9 kPa and were classified as F3, while 29 (8.5%) had TE-LS >= 12 kPa and were classified as F4. With the correlation analysis, both APRI (correlation coefficient, r = 0.1097, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.0403 - 0.2130; P = 0.042) and FIB-4 (r = 0.0424, 95% CI -0.0634 - 0.1474; P = 0.4335) were not correlated with TE-LS stages of fibrosis.

Conclusion: In our cohort, we failed to demonstrate that APRI and FIB-4 are reliable alternatives for screening liver fibrosis in patients with HIV and HCV co-infection. Nonetheless, APRI score still has a potential role as a screening tool instead of TE-LS measurement, which is costly and not readily available. It will be important to corroborate these findings in another large cohort, since this may have an important impact on patient management.

Gastroenterol Res. 2021;14(4):209-213


Liver fibrosis; APRI; FIB-4; Transient elastography; HIV; HCV

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