Purpose of review: Hepatitis C virus infection is the leading indication for liver transplantation, with recurrent hepatitis C almost universal. Although posttransplant treatment of hepatitis C virus infection remains suboptimal, active investigation continues to inform patient selection and risk-benefit analysis.
Recent findings: Several key studies have identified components in the immunological response that are associated with the necroinflammatory and fibrotic response. Hepatitis C virus infection is associated with a higher rate of diabetes mellitus after transplant. Patients with diabetes and metabolic syndrome have poorer outcomes, and aggressive management is necessary. Differentiation of acute rejection from recurrent hepatitis C is difficult; however, the use of hepatitis C virus RNA tissue levels, immunohistochemistry and Councilman body/portal tract ratio may help with this diagnostic dilemma. The use of a specific calcineurin inhibitor appears not to influence recurrent hepatitis C, but rapid steroid taper is detrimental and, if steroids are used, long slow taper should be used. Use of rapid and early virological responses is very helpful in the management of hepatitis C after transplantation. In the patients with sustained virological response, histological and survival benefits are noted.
Summary: The present review highlights advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of hepatitis C virus infection after liver transplantation in the last few years.