Semin Liver Dis 2009; 29(1): 053-065
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1192055
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Hepatitis C

Patrizia Burra1
  • 1Multivisceral Transplant Unit, Gastroenterology, Department of Surgical and Gastroenterological Sciences, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
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23. Februar 2009 (online)


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a leading cause of end-stage liver disease worldwide and the most common indication for liver transplantation in the United States and Europe. HCV nearly always recurs in liver-transplanted patients, and 10 to 25% of them develop cirrhosis within 5 to 10 years. One of the strategies suggested to limit virological HCV recurrence is pretransplant antiviral treatment, but studies are warranted on the pharmacokinetics of antiviral drugs in cirrhotic patients, the benefits of fixed or escalating antiviral drug dosage schedules, the duration of the treatment, and the indications for using growth factors. Several risk factors are associated with a more aggressive recurrent HCV and early allograft failure, such as an older donor age. The relationship between immunosuppression and fibrosis progression in HCV recurrence remains uncertain. Concerning the antiviral treatment, treating established recurrent disease with a combination of interferon and ribavirin has been the mainstay of management to date, but when it is best to start and how to manage the side effects are still controversial issues. Antiviral treatment should be started once the disease has been confirmed by a biopsy when the fibrosis develops, providing that ongoing acute or chronic rejection, biliary obstruction, vascular damage, autoimmune diseases and sepsis, and any other standard contraindications for antiviral therapy, have been excluded. HCV recurrence after liver transplantation may well lead to graft failure and become an indication for retransplantation, but this is done in a relatively small number of cases, accounting for only 3 to 5% of retransplanted patients, since retransplantation is associated with much worse results than primary liver transplant procedures. We must be prepared for the fact that increasing numbers of HCV-positive recipients with allografts failing due to recurrent HCV will be asking to be retransplanted—and we do not know yet how to respond to this request.


Patrizia Burra, M.D. , Ph.D. 

Multivisceral Transplant Unit, Gastroenterology, Department of Surgical and Gastroenterological Sciences, University of Padova

Via Giustiniani 2, 35128 Padova, Italy

eMail: [email protected]