A Prospective Evaluation of Fibrosis Progression in Patients with Recurrent Hepatitis C Virus Following Liver Transplantation

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Recurrence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) following liver transplantation (LT) is universal. A subset of these patients develop advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis and it is believed that this leads to increased posttransplantation mortality. The specific aims of this study were to determine the incidence of advanced fibrosis and those factors associated with this process, and to evaluate causes for mortality in patients with recurrent HCV. A total of 227 patients who underwent LT with chronic HCV were monitored prospectively. The mean age of this group at LT was 49.5 yr; 76% were male and 85% were Caucasian. Fibrosis progression was monitored by protocol liver biopsy, initially performed 6 months after LT and then at 6- to 24-month intervals. Advanced fibrosis, defined as the bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis, developed in 1%, 11%, 25%, and 41% of patients after 1, 3, 5, and 6-10 yr, respectively. Acute cellular rejection hepatic steatosis, a persistent elevation in serum alanine aminotransferase and donor-race were associated with the development of advanced fibrosis. In contrast, the development of advanced fibrosis was not affected by the use of interferon prior to undergoing LT, cytomegalovirus disease, or donor age. A total of 60 patients (26%) died over 15 yr of follow-up. Although graft failure accounted for 45% of deaths in patients with advanced fibrosis, this represented only 8% of all deaths in patients with recurrent HCV. Sepsis was the most common cause of death and this was observed with similar frequency in patients who developed advanced fibrosis (45%) and in those with less advanced fibrosis (47%). In conclusion, approximately 41% of patients with recurrent HCV developed advanced fibrosis 6-10 yr after LT. However, complications associated with sepsis, not recurrent cirrhosis, was the most common cause of death in patients with recurrent HCV and this was similar in patients with or without advanced fibrosis. Liver Transpl 13:975–983, 2007. © 2007 AASLD.

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