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Transplantation. 1999 Jan 27;67(2):272-5.

Chronic viral hepatitis in renal transplant recipients with allografts functioning for more than 20 years.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio 44195, USA.



The impact of infection with hepatotropic viruses (hepatitis B virus [HBV] and hepatitis C virus [HCV]) on morbidity and mortality, and allograft function in renal transplant recipients with allografts functioning for >20 years is not known.


Seventy-nine of 511 renal transplants performed at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation from January 1963 to January 1978 are known to have functioned for at least 20 years (level 5A). Fifty-four of these patients had hepatitis testing updated after their 19th year of transplantation. Fifteen patients had evidence of ongoing viral infection: persistent hepatitis B surface antigen in three (6%), HCV antibody (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay II supplemented by recombinant immunoblot assay) in 11 (20%), and both viruses in one (2%). Of the 10 surviving patients, 8 were tested further for viral replication. HCV RNA (polymerase chain reaction; Amplicore) was positive in 6/7 (86%), and HBV DNA (hybridization) was positive in 1/2 (50%). An elevated alanine aminotransferase (>35 U/L) was present in all hepatitis patients, alpha-fetoprotein >10 ng/ml in 2/8 (25%), and cryoglobulins >50 microg/ml in 3/6 (50%) infected with HCV. No hepatocellular carcinoma was detected by hepatic ultrasound. In patients with chronic viral hepatitis, probable cirrhosis developed in 20% (3/15) compared to one patient in the group without hepatitis, but there was no mortality from liver failure in either group. Diabetes mellitus was significantly more common in those with than without hepatitis (11/15 vs. 10/39; P=0.002), but severe infection was not (9/15 vs. 15/39). Five hepatitis patients (33%) have died of non-hepatic causes (one from meningitis, one from unknown cause, and three from coronary heart disease [CHD] vs. only two individuals without hepatitis [5%]; P= 0.014). Although the more frequent occurrence of CHD among those with hepatitis was not significant (7/15 vs. 8/39; P=0.09), CHD as a cause of death in those with HCV was significantly increased (P=0.03).


Twenty-year renal transplant recipients infected with hepatotropic viruses (HBV and HCV) have a high rate of active viral replication (88%), a greater frequency of diabetes (P=0.01), and a higher overall mortality (P=0.014).

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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