Interactions Between Cytomegalovirus, Human Herpesvirus-6, and the Recurrence of Hepatitis C After Liver Transplantation

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Abstract

Recurrence of hepatitis C (HCV) following liver transplantation is common. Herpesvirus reactivation following transplant may have an immunomodulatory effect resulting in increased HCV replication. We studied whether cytomegalovirus (CMV) and human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) may be associated with HCV recurrence and viral load after transplant. We prospectively followed 66 HCV liver-transplant recipients with serial viral load testing for CMV and HHV-6. Infection and viral load were correlated with the development of biopsy-proven HCV recurrence and HCV viral loads. Histologic recurrence of HCV occurred in 41/66 (62.1%) patients. In the primary analysis, CMV infection and disease, and HHV-6 infection were not associated with HCV recurrence. Peak CMV and HHV-6 viral loads were not significantly different in patients with and without recurrence. No correlation was observed between HCV viral loads at 1 and 3 months post-transplant and peak HHV-6 or CMV viral loads. In a subgroup analysis, HHV-6 infection was associated with the development of more severe recurrence (hepatitis and/or fibrosis score ≥ 2) (p = 0.01). Also, fibrosis scores at last follow up were higher in patients with CMV disease (1.67 vs. 0.56; p = 0.016) and in patients with HHV-6 infection (1.18 vs. 0.55; p = 0.031). In conclusion, HHV-6 and CMV infection and viral load were not associated with increased overall rates of HCV recurrence or HCV viral load after liver transplantation but may be associated with more severe forms of recurrence.

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