Coffee, chocolate linked to improved liver health in HIV/HCV patients

Carrieri MP. J Hepatol. 2014;60:46-53.

Patients coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C may experience a reduction in abnormal liver enzymes and an overall improvement in liver function with increased consumption of coffee and chocolate, a study determined.

“Our results provide the first evidence that daily chocolate intake and, more generally, polyphenol rich food intake, may contribute to decreased AST [aspartate aminotransferase] and ALT [alanine aminotransferase] levels and potentially improve liver function in HIV-HCV coinfected patients,” the researchers wrote. “They also suggest that polyphenols contained in coffee, but also in cocoa, can be involved in the causal process, which leads to reduced inflammation.”

The study examined longitudinal data including self-administered questionnaires and medical data from 990 patients included in a cohort study on HIV-HCV coinfected patients at 17 clinics in France. The researchers analyzed the association between consumption of at least 3 cups of coffee daily and abnormal AST and ALT values defined as 2.5 times above the upper normal limit. They also assessed the association between daily chocolate consumption and abnormal AST and ALT values.

Using multivariate analysis with adjusted odds ratio estimates based on logistic regression analyses, the researchers found patients reporting elevated coffee consumption were less likely to present with abnormal ALT (adjusted OR=0.65; 95% CI, 0.43-0.97) or abnormal AST (aOR=0.63; 95% CI, 0.4-0.99). Patients reporting daily chocolate intake also were less likely to present with abnormal ALT (aOR=0.57; 95% CI, 0.33-0.98), but the reduced likelihood of presenting with abnormal levels of AST did not rise to statistical significance.

Patients who reported elevated coffee consumption and daily chocolate consumption, however, demonstrated reduced incidence of elevated AST (aOR=0.54; 95% CI, 0.36-0.82) and ALT (aOR=0.57; 95% CI, 0.4-0.82).

The researchers called for further studies to better determine the role of consumption and whether supplementation might have an impact on liver disease and injury.