Positive Serum Cryoglobulin Is Associated with Worse Outcome after Liver Transplantation for Chronic Hepatitis C

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Background.Recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in patients after liver transplantation is an important clinical problem. Because serum cryoglobulins (CG) are known to be associated with an increased incidence of cirrhosis in nontransplant patients, the authors tested the hypothesis that CG would also predict aggressive recurrent HCV in patients after liver transplantation.Methods.Using a longitudinal database, the outcomes of 105 allografts transplanted into 97 HCV-positive patients from 1991 through 2002 were analyzed on the basis of CG status using a retrospective cohort design. Fifty-nine CG-negative and 38 CG-positive patients were identified. Histologic outcomes and graft survival were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier estimates and Cox univariate and multivariate analyses. Both overall survival and HCV-specific survival (non–HVC-related deaths and graft losses censored) were analyzed.Results.By Kaplan-Meier estimates, CG-positive patients showed earlier graft failure with decreased time to severe histologic activity and fibrosis as compared with CG-negative patients (P<0.05 for all outcomes). By univariate analysis, CG-positive patients had significantly higher risk ratios for shortened HCV-specific graft survival, severe activity-free survival, and severe fibrosis-free survival as compared with CG-negative patients (P<0.05 for all outcomes). In the multivariate model, CG was an independent predictor for severe activity-free, severe fibrosis-free, and HCV-specific graft survival (P<0.05 for all outcomes).Conclusions.CG-positivity is associated with severe recurrent HCV disease in liver transplant recipients.

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