Managing hepatitis C in liver transplant patients with recurrent infection
Tim Zimmermann1, Gerd Otto2, Marcus Schuchmann1
1Department of Internal Medicine, 2Transplantation Surgery, University of Mainz, Germany
Abstract: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) reinfection after liver transplantation (LT) and recurrent hepatitis C often lead to recurrent cirrhosis (RC). RC is one of the most frequent complications resulting in organ failure and early death after LT in HCV-positive patients with reported 5-year rates from 20% to 40%. As HCV-cirrhosis is one of the leading indications for LT, the therapeutic management is a central issue. To date, the best available therapy is a combination of pegylated interferon + ribavirin in patients with established recurrent hepatitis C proven by liver biopsy. Although increasing experience in using interferon therapy after LT has suggested better response rates, treatment is limited by a poor tolerability and high rates of severe side effects, necessitating lower doses or withdrawal of therapy. The extent to which dose reductions and the concomitant administration of growth factors affect virological response or prevent complications is still to be determined. Prospective clinical trials are mandatory to identify the best time point and schedule of antiviral treatment in transplant patients. Currently, therapeutic options need to be discussed for each individual patient. Therefore therapy should be carried out only in transplant centers with experience in managing hepatitis C after LT.
Keywords: hepatitis C, liver transplantation, recurrent infection, treatment
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