C4d in Acute Rejection After Liver Transplantation—A Valuable Tool in Differential Diagnosis to Hepatitis C Recurrence



Hepatitis C is the most common indication for liver transplantation. Recurrence of HCV is universal leading to graft failure in up to 40% of all patients. The differentiation between acute rejection and recurrent hepatitis C is crucial as rejection treatments are likely to aggravate HCV recurrence. Histological examination of liver biopsy remains the gold standard for diagnosis of acute rejection but has failed in the past to distinguish between acute rejection and recurrent hepatitis C. We have recently reported that C4d as a marker of the activated complement cascade is detectable in hepatic specimen in acute rejection after liver transplantation. In this study, we investigate whether C4d may serve as a specific marker for differential diagnosis in hepatitis C reinfection cases. Immunohistochemical analysis of 97 patients was performed. A total of 67.7% of patients with acute cellular rejection displayed C4d-positive staining in liver biopsy whereas 11.8% of patients with hepatitis C reinfection tested positive for C4d. In the control group, 6.9% showed C4d positivity. For the first time we were able to clearly demonstrate that humoral components, represented by C4d deposition, play a role in acute cellular rejection after LTX. Consequently C4d may be helpful to distinguish between acute rejection and reinfection after LTX for HCV.