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Keywords:

  • end-of-treatment response;
  • hepatitis C;
  • liver transplant;
  • relapse;
  • sustained virological response

Summary

Recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection occurs universally and is regarded as a major cause of mortality after liver transplantation (LT) for HCV-related end-stage liver disease. We conducted this large, single-center, retrospective study to ascertain the long-term impact of virological response to treatment of recurrent hepatitis C on survival of LT recipients. From August 1987 to October 2011, 285 patients have received interferon-based antiviral therapy for recurrent hepatitis C. Of these 285, 245 patients were enrolled in this study. One hundred and twenty-six patients (51.4%) achieved sustained virological response (SVR). Relapsers (undetectable HCV-RNA at end of treatment, becoming positive afterward) comprised 9.0% (22/245), and nonresponse (NR; never achieving undetectable HCV-RNA) 39.6% (97/245). The median follow-up after completion of antiviral treatment was 2081 days. Using Kaplan–Meier method, patients who achieved SVR were shown to have significantly better 5-year patient survival (95.2%) than the NR group (49.9%) (< 0.001), and a trend toward better 5-year survival than relapsers (87.5%) (P = 0.14); relapsers had a significantly longer survival than NR group (P = 0.005). When compared with NR, SVR and relapse appeared to be significant predictors of better survival, independent of underlying characteristics. In conclusion, virological response, especially SVR, translates into markedly improved long-term patient outcomes in patients transplanted for hepatitis C.