Central venulitis (CV), a distinct histologic lesion described in adult liver transplants, can occur with acute portal tract rejection or in isolation (ICV). Possible etiologies include immunosuppressive drug toxicity, acute cellular rejection, viral hepatitis, ischemic injury, and recurrent disease. This study was designed to characterize ICV and to assess its potential etiology in pediatric liver recipients because this population generally does not develop recurrent disease or viral hepatitis. All posttransplantation liver biopsy specimens that were obtained from children who received liver allografts over a 4-year period were reviewed. ICV was identified in 12 of 127 posttransplantation biopsies and in 7 of 45 allograft recipients. Only 4 liver transplantations were performed for potentially recurrent diseases (primary sclerosing cholangitis). ICV first appeared in posttransplantation biopsy specimens significantly later than did portal rejection alone. The finding of CV was not significantly correlated with elevation of Tacrolimus levels, reason for transplantation, donor/recipient cytomegalovirus (CMV) status or blood type, cold ischemic times, or the incidence of outflow obstruction. The responses of CV to therapy were variable and, although the majority of cases resolved, several episodes persisted or recurred. In conclusion, ICV occurs in 16% of pediatric liver allograft recipients and does not appear to be related to recurrent disease, viral hepatitis, drug toxicity, or graft ischemia. CV may be a variant of acute rejection, but longer follow-up is required to determine the most adequate therapy for this entity.
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