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Open Access Research article

Infection with HIV and HCV enhances the release of fatty acid synthase into circulation: evidence for a novel indicator of viral infection

Gerard Aragonès1, Carlos Alonso-Villaverde2, Cristina Oliveras-Ferraros34, Raúl Beltrán-Debón1, Anna Rull1, Fernando Rodríguez-Sanabria1, Jordi Camps1, Alejandro Vázquez Martín34, Javier A Menéndez34 and Jorge Joven1*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre de Recerca Biomèdica, Hospital Universitari de Sant Joan, Institut d'Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili (IISPV), Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Reus, Spain

2 Servei de Medicina Interna, Hospital Son Llàtzer, Palma, Illes Balears, Spain

3 Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), Dr. Josep Trueta. University Hospital, Girona, Spain

4 Biomedical Research Institute (IdIBGi), Dr. Josep Trueta. University Hospital, Girona, Spain

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BMC Gastroenterology 2010, 10:92  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-10-92

Published: 13 August 2010



Fatty acid synthase (FASN) is an enzyme synthesized by the liver and plays an important role in lipogenesis. The present study aimed to investigate whether serum FASN concentration may provide a direct link between HIV and/or HCV viral infections and lipid metabolic disorders commonly observed in HIV/HCV-infected patients.


We evaluated serum FASN concentration in 191 consecutive HIV-infected patients in the absence or presence of HCV co-infection. For comparison, 102 uninfected controls were included. Metabolic and inflammatory phenotype was also compared with respect to the presence of HCV co-infection.


Serum FASN concentration was significantly higher in HIV-infected patients than in healthy participants and HCV co-infected patients showed higher levels than those without co-infection. Levels were also affected by treatment regimen, but marginally influenced by virological variables. Insulin concentration was the sole variable among metabolic parameters that demonstrated a significant correlation with serum FASN concentrations. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) values correlated significantly with serum FASN concentration and provided the best discrimination with respect to the presence or absence of HCV co-infection. In multivariate analysis, only ALT, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and the presence of antiretroviral treatment regimen significantly contributed to explain serum FASN concentration in HIV/HCV co-infected patients.


Serum FASN concentration is significantly increased in HIV-infected individuals. The release of FASN into the circulation is further enhanced in patients who are co-infected with HCV. Subsequent studies should explore the usefulness of this indicator to monitor the effect of viral infections on disease progression and survival.