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Hum Pathol. 2002 Nov;33(11):1098-104.

Cryptogenic cirrhosis: clinicopathologic findings at and after liver transplantation.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


The incidence of cryptogenic cirrhosis (CC) has decreased since the discovery of hepatitis C virus (HCV), still the etiology in 5% of cases with cirrhosis remains unresolved. Our aims were to define the clinicopathologic features of CC at liver transplantation (LT), evaluate the post-LT course with outcome and define the possible pathogenetic mechanisms. 27/534 LT recipients (5%) over a period of 16.5 years were entered in the LT database as cases of CC. A detailed analysis of pre- and post-LT clinical and all liver pathology specimens was performed. Based on clinicopathologic findings, a more definite diagnosis was possible in 23 of 27 (85%): Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in 9 (33%), autoimmune liver disease (AILD) in 6 (22%), alcoholic liver disease in 4, secondary biliary cirrhosis in 2 and 1 each of hepatitis C and portal venopathy. 4/27 cases remained unresolved. In the NASH group, native livers had focal steatosis, Mallory's hyalin, glycogenated hepatocytic nuclei, high-grade inflammation, and 3+ bile duct proliferation. Large cell dysplasia was more common in this group compared to other patients. Two patients had recurrence of NASH after LT. In AILD group native livers had little or no bile duct proliferation. Two patients had recurrence in AILD group. Of 27 patients 19 are alive (70%) with a follow-up of 407-3647 days. Based on the study results, the following conclusions were reached: (1) CC results from varying etiologies, which can be defined by a careful clinicopathologic analysis in a majority (85%) of cases; (2) Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (33%) and AILD (22%) are the common underlying causes of CC; and (3) Post-LT outcome for CC is disease dependent with, recurrent disease seen in both nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (22%) and autoimmune liver disease (33%).

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