• Fibrosis;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • liver transplantation;
  • mTOR inhibitor/inhibition;
  • sirolimus

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes progressive liver fibrosis in liver transplant recipients and is the principal cause of long-term allograft failure. The antifibrotic effects of sirolimus are seen in animal models but have not been described in liver transplant recipients. We reviewed 1274 liver recipients from 2002 to 2010 and identified a cohort of HCV recipients exposed to sirolimus as primary immunosuppression (SRL Cohort) and an HCV Control Group of recipients who had never received sirolimus. Yearly protocol biopsies were done recording fibrosis stage (METAVIR score) with biopsy compliance of >80% at both year one and two. In an intent-to-treat analysis, the SRL Cohort had significantly less advanced fibrosis (stage ≥2) compared to the HCV Control Group at year one (15.3% vs. 36.2%, p < 0.0001) and year two (30.1% vs. 50.5%, p = 0.001). Because sirolimus is sometimes discontinued for side effects, the SRL Cohort was subgroup stratified for sirolimus duration, showing progressively less fibrosis with longer sirolimus duration. Multivariate analysis demonstrated sirolimus as an independent predictor of minimal fibrosis at year one, and year two. This is the first study among liver transplant recipients with recurrent HCV to describe the positive impact of sirolimus in respect of reduced fibrosis extent and rate of progression.