Severity of liver disease in liver transplantation recipients with hepatitis C virus infection: Relationship to genotype and level of viremia



Infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1b has been reported to be associated with more severe posttransplantation liver disease than infection with non-1b genotypes. To address this issue, we evaluated the outcome in 124 patients who underwent liver transplantation for chronic HCV infection. The HCV genotype and/or serotype responsible for infection was determined by four different methods. HCV RNA was detected in serum samples by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification, and quantified by branched DNA assay. Disease severity was expressed as a histological score (which included grading of portal inflammation, lobular activity, fibrosis, and cytopathic changes). Median duration of histological follow-up was 25 months (range 1-75 months). Genotype was assignable in 112 (92.5%) patients. Genotypes responsible for infection were as follows: 1a = 32.2%, 1b = 27.3%, 2a = 7.4%, 2b = 8.3%, 3a = 14%, and mixed infection (more than one subtype) = 3.3%. Level of viremia, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), bilirubin, and total histological score were not significantly different in patients infected with type 1b compared with patients infected with other genotypes. While duration of histological follow-up was greater in patients infected with type lb versus other types (P = .02), by univariate and multivariate analysis neither HCV genotype (lb versus others), level of viremia nor duration of histological follow-up were associated with disease severity. Moreover, there was no significant difference in the actuarial graft survival in patients infected with type lb compared with that of patients infected with non-lb types (82% and 87% at 3 years, respectively). Reanalysis using HCV genotype 1 showed no association with disease severity, graft survival, and patient survival. We conclude that HCV genotype 1 and subtype 1b are not associated with disease severity or graft survival in liver transplantation recipients.