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Abstract

The discovery of interleukin-28B (IL-28B) single-nucleotide polymorphisms has opened an important new area of research in liver transplantation (LT) for hepatitis C virus (HCV). Both recipient- and donor-derived IL-28B genotypes affect the post-LT treatment response, with sustained virological response (SVR) rates oscillating from >50% in homozygotes for the favorable allele (up to 90% when this is present in both the recipient and the donor) to <15% in homozygotes for the unfavorable allele and from 30% to 50% in heterozygotes. Other key posttransplant outcomes affected by the IL-28B genotype are the time to histological recurrence, HCV RNA and alanine aminotransferase levels, histological variables (including the rate of fibrosis progression), and hepatocellular carcinoma. Interactions between donor and recipient IL-28B genotypes are complex and may affect outcomes not directly related to HCV infections, such as acute cellular rejection (ACR) and metabolic diseases. A preferential allocation system in which livers from donors homozygous for the favorable allele are given to HCV patients might be postulated to improve SVR rates and post-LT outcomes in recipients with HCV infections (a 25% increase in SVR and an 8% decrease in mortality at 5 years). Although negative effects from this are difficult to predict, they could include an accelerated progression of fibrosis in patients with failed HCV eradication and an increase in ACR in non-HCV patients. Our knowledge of the precise role of IL-28B genotypes in the course of post-LT HCV is evolving, but existing knowledge suggests the possibility of exploring strategies that use IL-28B genotyping to reduce the impact of post-LT adverse outcomes. Liver Transpl 19:49–58, 2013. © 2012 AASLD.