Treatment of Patients with Recurrent Hepatitis C after Liver Transplantation with Peginterferon Alfa-2B Plus Ribavirin

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Background.Recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV) after liver transplantation (OLT) is a major cause of graft loss in HCV-positive patients. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy and safety of pegylated interferon alfa-2b (peginterferon) and ribavirin treatment for recurrent HCV after OLT and analyzed the influence of antiviral treatment on the histological course of recurrent hepatitis.Methods.Twenty-five patients with recurrent HCV (genotype 1 n=20 and 2–4 n=5) received peginterferon (1 mg/kg/weekly) and ribavirin (600 mg) for 48 weeks. Viral load prior to treatment was below 1,000,000 (IU/ml) in 11 of 25 patients. Sustained antiviral response was defined as undetectable HCV-RNA in serum 6 months after stopping of therapy. All patients underwent liver biopsy prior to treatment and after 72 weeks.Results.Seventeen of 25 patients became HCV-RNA-negative after treatment (68%). Sustained virologic response (SVR) was achieved in 9/25 (36%) patients. Liver specimen showed increase of fibrosis from 1.7 to 2.0 within 72 weeks. Side effects like neutropenia (60%) and anemia (36%) were treated with G-CSF, erythropoietin, and dose reduction of peginterferon and ribavirin.Conclusions.The use of peginterferon is safe and effective in patients with recurrent HCV. Treatment of side effects, especially neutropenia or anemia, helped to maintain antiviral therapy. Despite a viral response of 68% during treatment, the patients showed further progress of recurrent hepatitis in liver specimen.

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