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Minerva Chirurgica 2003 October;58(5):717-24

language: English

Management of recurrence of hepatitis C infection following liver transplantation

Charlton M.


Liver disease secondary to hepatitis C infection is the most common indication for liver transplantation. Infection of the allograft begins at the time of transplantation. The histological progression of hepatitis C infection is greatly accelerated in liver transplant recipients when compared to the natural history in immunocompetent patients. Chronic allograft injury is apparent in >50% of HCV-infected recipients in the first postoperative year. Appro-ximately 10% of HCV-infected recipients die or lose their allograft secondary to hepatitis C-associated allograft failure and a further 30% will have cirrhosis by the end of the fifth postoperative year. Cumulative exposure to corticosteroids is associated with increased mortality, higher levels of HCV viremia and more severe histological recurrence. In contrast to non­HCV-infected recipients, treatment for acute cellular rejection is associated with attenuated patient survival among recipients with hepatitis C. Therapy with pegylated IFN (± ribavirin), although less efficacious than in immunocompetent patients, should be considered in recipients with histologically apparent recurrence of hepatitis C before jaundice develops. Ribavirin is poorly tolerated in liver transplant recipients, limiting efficacy of combination therapy. Ribavirin dosing should be adjusted for renal insufficiency. Passive immunity, through anti-HCV antibody preparations, has not been efficacious to date. The role of hepatitis C new immunosuppression agents in the management of posttransplant hepatitis C infection is still evolving.

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