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J Hepatol. 2016 Oct;65(1 Suppl):S95-S108. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2016.07.039.

Reversion of disease manifestations after HCV eradication.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address:
Hepatology and Liver Transplant Unit and Ciberehd, La Fe Univ. Hospital and Univ. Valencia, Spain.


Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) may lead to hepatic fibrosis and eventually cirrhosis, at which stage, patients have a substantial risk of liver failure, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and liver-related death. Moreover, HCV infection is associated with several extrahepatic manifestations which impact the quality of life and increase the non-liver-related mortality rate. For patients with compensated liver disease, interferon (IFN)-based antiviral therapy has been a treatment option for over two decades. Long-term follow-up studies indicated that among those with sustained virological response (SVR) the extend of hepatic fibrosis can regress and that their risk of cirrhosis-related complications (including HCC) is reduced, also in case of cirrhosis. Recent population-based studies extended these observations for solid extrahepatic outcomes, such as end-stage renal failure and cardiovascular events. Most importantly, SVR has been associated with prolonged overall survival. These results highlight the importance of the development of new direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), by which almost all patients are able to eradicate HCV in a comfortable manner. Based on the excellent first experiences with the DAAs, physicians gained confidence to use these drugs among patients with decompensated cirrhosis on a more regular basis as well. This was not possible with interferon therapy. Also in this high risk population the DAAs show high SVR rates with improvements in biochemical parameters of liver function shortly after therapy, especially in case of SVR. In fact, some patients could actually be removed from the liver transplantation waiting list due to clinical improvement following DAA therapy. How these short-term results translate into a prolonged (long-term) survival has yet to be determined, as well as which patients with decompensated liver disease are likely or not to benefit from viral eradication. Here we review the current data regarding the beneficial clinical outcome with antiviral therapy as well the remaining uncertainties in this field, both for patients with compensated liver disease and patients with decompensated liver disease.


Antiviral therapy; Chronic hepatitis C; Clinical outcome; Hepatic fibrosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Survival; Sustained virological response

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