Hepatitis C Recurrence After Liver Transplantation: Viral and Histologic Response to Full-Dose Peg-Interferon and Ribavirin


*Corresponding author: R. Barcena, rbarcena.hrc@salud.madrid.org


Hepatitis C recurrence after liver transplantation (LT) is universal, and frequently leads to cirrhosis and death. The aim of our study was to assess the efficacy and safety of 48-weeks of full-dose peg-interferon-α-2a (n = 4) or α-2b (n = 51) plus ribavirin (>11 mg/kg/day) in a multicentric cohort of 55 patients ≥12 months after LT. All subjects had histologically proven HCV recurrence, excluding severe cholestatic recurrence. Mean age was 54.3 ± 9.7, 77% male, 90.9% genotype 1, 32.7% cirrhotics. All but 5 patients received monotherapy with tacrolimus (54.5%), cyclosporine (30.7%) or mycophenolate mofetil (5.5%). The rates of end-of-treatment response and sustained virological response (SVR) were 66.7% and 43.6%, respectively. Low baseline HCV-RNA (p = 0.005) and a length from LT to therapy between 2–4 years (p = 0.011) were predictors of SVR. The lack of achieving a viral load decrease ≥1-log10 at week 4 and/or 2-log10 at week 12 was 100% predictive of failure. The most frequent side effects were neutropenia (76,4%), anemia (60%) and infectious complications (30.9%). Toxicity led to peg-interferon withdrawal in 16 (29%) subjects. In 15 patients with post-treatment biopsy, the histological activity index was significantly improved (p = 0.006), whereas fibrosis did not change (p = 0.14). Three patients died (cholangitis, hepatic artery thrombosis and lung cancer). In conclusion, HCV therapy after LT was very effective, although it led to a significant rate of toxicity.