Background: Recent studies suggest an association between diabetes mellitus and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Our aim was to determine (1) the prevalence and determinants of new onset posttransplant diabetes mellitus (PTDM) in HCV (+) liver transplant (OLT) recipients, (2) the temporal relationship between recurrent allograft hepatitis and the onset of PTDM, and (3) the effects of antiviral therapy on glycemic control.
Methods: Between January of 1991 and December of 1998, of 185 OLTs performed in 176 adult patients, 47 HCV (+) cases and 111 HCV (-) controls were analyzed. We reviewed and analyzed the demographics, etiology of liver failure, pretransplant alcohol abuse, prevalence of diabetes mellitus, and clinical characteristics of both groups. In HCV (+) patients, the development of recurrent allograft hepatitis and its therapy were also studied in detail.
Results: The prevalence of pretransplant diabetes was similar in the two groups, whereas the prevalence of PTDM was significantly higher in HCV (+) than in HCV (-) patients (64% vs. 28%, P=0.0001). By multivariate analysis, HCV infection (hazard ratio 2.5, P=0.001) and methylprednisolone boluses (hazard ratio 1.09 per bolus, P=0.02) were found to be independent risk factors for the development of PTDM. Development of PTDM was found to be an independent risk factor for mortality (hazard ratio 3.67, P<0.0001). The cumulative mortality in HCV (+) PTDM (+) versus HCV (+) PTDM (-) patients was 56% vs. 14% (P=0.001). In HCV (+) patients with PTDM, we could identify two groups based on the temporal relationship between the allograft hepatitis and the onset of PTDM: 13 patients developed PTDM either before or in the absence of hepatitis (group A), and 12 concurrently with the diagnosis of hepatitis (group B). In gr. B, 11 of 12 patients received antiviral therapy. Normalization of liver function tests with improvement in viremia was achieved in 4 of 11 patients, who also demonstrated a marked improvement in their glycemic control.
Conclusion: We found a high prevalence of PTDM in HCV (+) recipients. PTDM after OLT was associated with significantly increased mortality. HCV infection and methylprednisolone boluses were found to be independent risk factors for the development of PTDM. In approximately half of the HCV (+) patients with PTDM, the onset of PTDM was related to the recurrence of allograft hepatitis. Improvement in glycemic control was achieved in the patients who responded to antiviral therapy.