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Exp Clin Transplant. 2018 Jun;16(3):348-351. doi: 10.6002/ect.2015.0343. Epub 2016 Jun 15.

Acute Graft Dysfunction 17 Years After Liver Transplant: A Challenging Clinical and Histologic Manifestation of Hepatitis E.

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>From the General, Visceral, and Transplantation Surgery, Experimental Surgery and Regenerative Medicine, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Virchow Klinikum, Berlin, Germany.


Acute hepatitis E virus infection after liver transplant is a challenging clinical phenomenon. Due to its unspecific clinical and histological presentation, the diagnosis of acute or chronic hepatitis E virus infection can be difficult in unclear cases of elevated liver enzymes. Here, we report the case of a 56-year-old male patient who presented to our center for 17-year follow-up after liver transplant with α1-antitrypsin deficiency. The patient was asymptomatic but had remarkably increased transaminases and cholestasis parameters. Blood levels for immunosuppressives were in the normal range, and cholestasis and deteriorated liver perfusion were excluded by ultrasonographic examination. A liver biopsy was performed that was histologically interpreted as acute cellular rejection grade I. Accordingly, the patient was treated with 5-day high-dose intravenous steroids and increased doses of the maintenance immunosuppressive agents, resulting in the slow normalization of the liver enzymes. Extended laboratory examinations revealed presence of acute hepatitis E virus infection, and a retrospectively immunohistologic staining of the liver biopsy was positive for hepatitis E virus antigen. Acute hepatitis E virus infection can be a reason for acute allograft dysfunction after liver transplant. This differential diagnosis should be kept in mind, especially when graft dysfunction occurs long after transplant.

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