Long-term outcome of liver transplants for chronic hepatitis C: a 10-year follow-up

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Background. Recurrence of hepatitis C (HCV) infection after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) in HCV-positive patients is almost universal. Severity of graft hepatitis increases during the long-term follow-up, and up to 30% of patients develop severe graft hepatitis and cirrhosis. However, there are still no clear predictors for severe recurrence. The aim of this study was to examine the 10-year outcome and risk factors for graft failure caused by HCV recurrence.Methods. In a prospective analysis, 234 OLTs in 209 HCV-positive patients with a median age of 53 years were analyzed. Immunosuppression was based on cyclosporine A or tacrolimus in different protocols. Predictors for outcome were genotype, viremia, donor variables, recipient demographics, postoperative immunosuppression, and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) compatibilities.Results. Actuarial 5-, and 10-year patient survival was 75.8% and 68.8%. Eighteen of 209 (8.7%) patients died because of HCV recurrence, which was responsible for 35.9% of the total 53 deaths. Significant risk factors for HCV-related graft failure in an univariate analysis were multiple steroid pulses, use of OKT3, and donor age greater than 40. However, in a multivariate analysis, multiple rejection treatments with steroids and OKT3 treatment proved to be significantly associated with HCV-related graft loss.Conclusions. The analysis of causes leading to graft failure in patients with HCV showed that HCV recurrence is responsible for one of three deaths in HCV-positive patients. Rejection treatment contributed significantly to an enhanced risk for HCV-related graft loss. New antiviral treatments, as well as adapted immunosuppressive protocols, will be necessary to further improve the outcome of HCV-positive patients after liver transplantation.

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