Chronic hepatitis C is a principal indication for liver transplantation. Recurrent viral infection is inevitable and graft disease is common. We report tolerability, safety and efficacy of pegylated interferon alpha 2b (PEG-IFN) monotherapy for patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) recurrence and fibrosis after liver transplantation. Repeated measurements of serum HCV titer permitted assessment of the kinetics of the antiviral response for all patients.
We screened 63 patients transplanted for HCV at our center for antiviral treatment, 14 were eligible and treated, but only 6 completed the proposed 52 weeks of therapy. Eight were withdrawn because of severe/life-threatening side effects/events, including liver dysfunction (4 patients). None of those 8 achieved a sustained virological response (SVR). Five of 6 who completed treatment were HCV RNA negative at the end of treatment, and 2 achieved an SVR. Viral kinetics were similar to published observations for treatment of non-transplanted HCV patients. Patients with genotype non-1 infection displayed a more rapid decline of viral titer than was observed for genotype 1 infection.
Post-transplant HCV patients are frequently unsuitable for, or intolerant of PEG-IFN. Liver dysfunction was a major concern.