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J Hepatol. 2003 Sep;39(3):389-96.

Antiviral therapy of patients with decompensated cirrhosis to prevent recurrence of hepatitis C after liver transplantation.

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  • 1Liver Unit, Hospital Clínic, Institut de Malalties Digestives, IDIBAPS, Escala 7, 3 pis., Villarroel 170, Barcelona 08036, Spain. xforns@clinic.ub.es



After liver transplantation (LT) infection of the graft with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is almost universal and chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis develop in a significant proportion of patients. One of the possible strategies to prevent HCV infection recurrence is to eradicate HCV before LT.


We evaluated the efficacy and safety of antiviral therapy to prevent HCV recurrence in 30 HCV-cirrhotic patients awaiting LT. At the time of inclusion 15 patients were Child-Pugh A and 15 Child-Pugh B/C. The infecting genotype was 1b in 25 patients. Treatment with interferon alpha-2b 3 MU/day and ribavirin 800 mg/day was initiated when the expected time for LT was less than 4 months and continued until LT. The median duration of treatment was 12 weeks.


Nine patients (30%) achieved a virological response and 21 did not respond to therapy. In nine (43%) of the 21 non-responders viral load decreased > or =2 log10 during treatment. A viral load decrease > or = 2 log10 at week 4 of treatment was the strongest predictor of virological response. All nine virological responders have already undergone LT; six patients remain free of infection after a median follow-up of 46 weeks and HCV infection recurred in three patients after LT. In one of these patients HCV-RNA was still detectable in the explanted liver. Side effects were frequent and dose reduction was necessary in 19 (63%) of the 30 patients; no patient died while on therapy.


Our data support the utilization of antiviral therapy in HCV-infected patients awaiting LT as one of the strategies to prevent hepatitis C recurrence after transplantation.

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