Living or Brain-dead Donor Liver Transplantation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Multicenter, Western, Intent-to-treat Cohort Study

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An intent-to-treat analysis of overall survival (ITT-OS) of cirrhotic patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) listed for living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) or brain-dead donor liver transplantation (BDLT) across 5 French liver transplant (LT) centers.


Comparisons of HCC outcomes after LDLT and BDLT measured from time of transplantation have yielded conflicting results.


Records from 861 cirrhotic patients with HCC consecutively listed for either LDLT (n = 79) or BDLT (n = 782) from 2000 to 2009 were analyzed for ITT-OS using a Cox model; and tumor recurrence using 2 competitive risk models.


Tumor staging was similar between groups. In total, 162 patients dropped out (20.7%), all from Group BDLT (P < 0.0001). The postoperative mortality rate and the retransplantation rate were similar between LDLT and BDLT. At 5 years, no statistically significant difference was found in ITT-OS between LDLT and BDLT groups (73.2% vs 66.7%; P = 0.062). LDLT waitlist inclusion (hazard ratio: 0.61 (0.39–0.96); P = 0.034) and a time-of-listing MELD score ≥ 25 (hazard ratio: 1.93 (1.15–3.26); P = 0.014) were independent predictors of ITT-OS. Similar 5-year post-LT OS rates (73.2% and 73.0% for Group LDLT and Group BDLT, respectively; P = 0.407) and HCC recurrence rates (10.9% and 11.2% for Group LDLT and Group BDLT, respectively; P = 0.753) were found. Upon explant analysis, tumors exceeding the Milan criteria, macroscopic vascular invasion, and AFP score>2 were independent predictors of recurrence, whereas LT type was not.


LDLT improves ITT-OS, and it is not a risk factor for tumor recurrence. Therefore, LDLT and BDLT should be equally encouraged in countries where both are available.

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