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Hepatology. 1997 Dec;26(6):1646-52.

Histological and clinical outcome after liver transplantation for hepatitis C.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


Hepatitis frequently recurs after liver transplantation for hepatitis C. However, the histological progression of disease, predictors of recurrence and disease severity, and patient survival remain uncertain. Fifty-five patients with cirrhosis caused by chronic hepatitis C underwent liver transplantation between January 1990 and December 1993. Hepatitis C genotype was determined, and liver biopsies were performed at frequent intervals posttransplantation. The median follow-up time was 40.4 months. The cumulative rate of survival was no different in liver transplant recipients for hepatitis C than in liver transplant recipients for other chronic liver diseases (P = .62). Histological recurrent hepatitis C developed in 33 of 50 patients assessable for disease recurrence; the median recurrence-free survival time was 13.4 months. Histological activity and stage were mild in most cases. Only 2 patients developed cirrhosis, and no patient required a second transplantation for recurrent disease. Patients with acute cellular rejection had a shorter recurrence-free survival (P = .0141). In patients with recurrent hepatitis, rejection also was correlated with increased histological grade 2 years after transplantation (P = .0061). Recurrence-free survival was decreased in patients infected with genotype 1 (1a and 1b combined) compared with genotypes 2 and 3 combined (P = .02), whereas there was no difference between genotypes 1a and 1b (P > .80). Only patients infected with genotype 1a or 1b developed bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis. In addition, patients who had an early recurrence had a greater risk of progressing to bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis (hazard ratio, 5.1; P = .0473). In our experience, recurrent hepatitiS C after liver transplantation in most cases is mild and survival is unaffected. Both acute cellular rejection and infection with genotype 1 are independent risk factors for reduced recurrence-free survival, and early recurrence is associated with a higher risk of disease progression.

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