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Keywords:

  • liver transplantation;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • hepatitis

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) reinfection after liver transplantation is almost constant, assessed by the persistence of HCV RNA in 90% of cases. Acute hepatitis appeared in 75% of patients at a median of 4 months’ post-transplantation. The 5-year actuarial rate of acute and chronic hepatitis on the graft is 75% and 60%, respectively. The rate of HCV cirrhosis on the graft is variable from 8 to 25% at 5 years. After transplantation, HCV viraemia is dramatically increased and correlates with the occurrence of acute hepatitis on the graft. Intrahepatic levels of HCV are high at the time of acute hepatitis, and decrease with constitution of chronic graft hepatitis lesions, implying an immunological response to the viral infection. A relationship between genotype 1b and the prevalence of HCV hepatitis on the graft has been suggested in European but not American series. The influence of the age of the recipient, quasispecies, viral compartmentalization, immunosuppressive treatment, and of HLA matching is being evaluated. The 5-year patient survival is around 65-80%. However, the occurrence of cirrhosis with a risk of graft failure may decrease the 10 and 15-year patient survival. Attempts to give prophylactic post-transplant antiviral treatment are under evaluation. Antiviral treatment of post-transplant graft lesions with combination therapy interferon–ribavirin gave promising results but indications and duration of treatment should be evaluated.

In conclusion, HCV reinfection is frequent, but medium-term survival is good. However, the long-term graft and patient survival remains unknown, and efficient prevention and treatment of HCV graft is mandatory.