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World J Surg. 1997 Jan;21(1):78-84; discussion 85.

De novo hepatitis B and C viral infection after liver transplantation.

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Istituto di Clinica Chirurgica II, Università di Bologna, Policlinico S Orsola, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.


Hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) viral infections often recur after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), but viral infections acquired with OLT have not been widely investigated. The aim of the study was to evaluate the incidence, evolution, and diagnostic problems of de novo HBV and HCV infections in liver transplant recipients with long-term follow-up. Altogether 121 transplant recipients entered the study. HBV, HDV, and HCV infections were diagnosed by means of serology and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Three patients became hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive after OLT, all of whom showed signs of persistent viral replication. Twelve patients became anti-HCV-positive after OLT: After clearance of passive antibodies, active anti-HCV seroconversion was usually delayed. The viral genome was detected in 9 of 12 patients, with fluctuations of viremia during their follow-up. The other three patients, who were HBsAg-positive before and after OLT, were repeatedly HCV-RNA-negative despite persistent anti-HCV reactivity. Four pre-OLT HBsAg-positive patients had evidence of HBV-related liver transplant disease. The remaining 8 of 12 patients experienced repeated alanine aminotransferase increases more than two times normal after transplant. De novo infections due to primary hepatotropic viruses were frequent after OLT in our experience. Early diagnosis of infection, especially when the HCV is involved, may be problematic and should be taken into account in patients showing persistent aminotransferase abnormalities. Monitoring viral markers and accurate evaluation of biopsy specimens are mandatory. The interference between HBV and HCV might play a role in the replicative cycle of one or both viruses in co-infected patients.

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