HCV-related fibrosis progression following liver transplantation: increase in recent years

J Hepatol. 2000 Apr;32(4):673-84. doi: 10.1016/s0168-8278(00)80231-7.


Background/aims: The natural history and predictors of HCV-related disease severity post-transplantation are uncertain. The aims of this study were to define the natural history of post-transplantation HCV infection by assessing the rate of fibrosis progression, to determine if the post-transplantation natural history differs from that observed pre-transplantation, and to identify predictors of post-transplantation disease progression.

Methods: Post-transplantation biopsies (mean: 3+/-1.6/patient) from 284 patients were scored according to histologic stage, using the method of Desmet et al. Change in fibrosis score (fibrosis progression/year) post-transplantation was used as the primary outcome. Predictors analyzed included viral factors (genotype and viral load at transplantation), patient demographics, year of transplantation, country of transplantation, pre-transplantation fibrosis progression, immunosuppression and laboratory data.

Results: There was a linear association between change in fibrosis score and time from transplantation, with a median rate of fibrosis progression per year of 0.3 (0.004-2.19/year). Using parametric time-to-event analysis, the expected median duration to cirrhosis was 10 years. The rate of post-transplantation fibrosis progression was significantly higher than pre-transplantation (0.2/year (0.09-0.8) p<0.0001), and higher in Spanish than US centers (0.48 (0.01-2.19) vs 0.28 (0.004-2.08); p=0.09) despite similar progression rates prior to transplantation. Variables independently associated with post-transplantation progression included year of transplantation (p=0.0001), race (p=0.02), number of methyl-prednisolone boluses (p=0.03), and HCV RNA levels at transplantation (p=0.01).

Conclusions: HCV-related disease progression is accelerated in immunocompromised compared to immunocompetent patients, with a progressive increase in patients who have recently undergone liver transplantation. Changes in patient management post-transplantation over time and between transplant centers may account for the increase in fibrosis progression observed in recent years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / surgery*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors