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Transplantation. 1996 Feb 27;61(4):542-6.

Serum hepatitis C RNA titers after liver transplantation are not correlated with immunosuppression or hepatitis.

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  • 1Division of Transplant Surgery, New England Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


The degree to which immunosuppression and/or rejection influences recurrent hepatitis C (HCV) after liver transplantation (LT) for end-stage HCV cirrhosis remains poorly defined. We quantified serum HCV-RNA in 84 serum samples from 28 anti-HCV-positive patients taken 223 days prior to and up to 1719 days after liver transplantation to determine if cumulative immunosuppression, rejection, or histologic recurrence correlated with HCV-RNA levels. Histologic, serum chemistry, cumulative steroid, and OKT3 and alpha-interferon (INF) dose data were collected at the time of HCV-RNA sampling. Eighteen of 24 evaluable patients (75%) had HCV-RNA detected in their sera after transplant. Eight patients had 14 rejection episodes, 9 patients received OKT3, and 5 were given INF for histologically moderate hepatitis. Five patients died - two of recurrent hepatitis C - and no retransplants were performed for recurrent hepatitis. Of the 23 survivors, 7 have histologic hepatitis - 2 with persistent ascites, and 2 with mild fibrosis. We could show no correlation between HCV-RNA levels and any of the variables examined although a trend toward increasing HCV-RNA levels with increasing numbers of rejection episodes was observed. In addition, histologic recurrence occurred more frequently for patients treated with OKT3. We conclude that the quantity of circulating viral genome is not influenced by immunosuppressive load and does not correlate with laboratory or histologic signs of recurrence. The roles that rejection, and possibly OKT3, play in the recurrence of HCV after liver transplant need further study.

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