Early viral load and recipient interleukin-28B rs12979860 genotype are predictors of the progression of hepatitis C after liver transplantation



There have been few detailed studies of viral kinetics after liver transplantation (LT), and conflicting data have been reported on viral loads and the severity of recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV) disease. This long-term study aimed to examine (1) the impact of HCV RNA levels at specific points in time within the first year and (2) the influence of interleukin-28B (IL-28B) genotypes on patient outcomes and the severity of recurrent HCV disease. The viral loads were measured 2, 4, 12, 24, and 48 weeks after LT, and the recipient/donor IL-28B genotypes of 164 patients were determined. A Cox regression analysis showed that the viral load at week 2 was an independent negative predictor of recipient outcomes. A week 2 viral load ≥ 6.0 log10 IU/mL was significantly associated with reduced patient survival. After a mean follow-up of 6.5 years, 21 of 164 patients (12.8%) developed a cholestatic type of HCV recurrence and/or rapidly progressed to cirrhosis within 1 year. A multivariate binary regression analysis showed that HCV viremia at week 2 and a non-C/C recipient IL-28B genotype were independent risk factors for cholestatic recurrent HCV. No predictive factors could be found for the occurrence of recurrent liver cirrhosis 5 and 10 years after LT. Our study shows that the HCV RNA level at week 2 and the recipient IL-28B genotype are independent, statistically significant risk factors for post-LT cholestatic HCV, and it emphasizes the importance of viral load monitoring and IL-28B genotyping for identifying HCV recipients at risk for severe HCV recurrence. Liver Transpl 18:671–679, 2012. © 2012 AASLD.