Hepatic Stellate Cell Activation in Liver Transplant Patients with Hepatitis C Recurrence and in Non-Transplanted Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C


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Abstract

The pathogenic mechanisms of accelerated graft fibrosis in hepatitis C recurrence after liver transplantation (LT) are not well established. The aim of the study was to assess whether a greater activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC), the major collagen-producing cells in the liver, can occur in these patients as compared to non-LT patients with chronic hepatitis C. We determined the amount of activated HSC by computer-based morphometric analysis of α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA)-positive cells and the hepatic TGFβ1 expression by immunohistochemistry in 46 LT patients with hepatitis C recurrence, 35 non-LT patients with chronic hepatitis C, and 16 controls. Hepatic αSMA and TGFβ1 expression was higher in LT patients with hepatitis C recurrence than in controls and was correlated with fibrosis stage and progression rate. No significant difference in αSMA and TGFβ1 expression was observed between LT and non-LT patients with hepatitis C, with the exception of a higher transforming growth factor β-1 (TGFβ1) expression in non-LT patients in the early stages of fibrosis. LT patients receiving cyclosporine (CsA) or tacrolimus (FK) had a similar fibrosis progression rate and αSMA and TGFβ1 expression. In conclusion, the accelerated fibrosis observed in LT patients with hepatitis C recurrence does not seem to be related to a greater amount of activated HSC and TGFβ1 expression in the grafts of these patients as compared to non-LT patients with chronic hepatitis C. In LT patients, the amount of activated HSC and TGFβ1 expression correlated with fibrosis stage and progression, without any apparent influence of the type of calcineurin inhibitor administered. Liver Transpt 13:1017–1027, 2007. © 2007 AASLD.

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