Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is the most rapidly growing indication for liver transplantation in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma in the U.S

Hepatology. 2014 Jun;59(6):2188-95. doi: 10.1002/hep.26986. Epub 2014 Apr 25.


Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is currently the third leading indication for liver transplantation (LT) in the U.S. and is predicted to become the leading indication for LT in the near future. The trends in NASH-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) among LT recipients in the U.S. remain undefined. We performed a retrospective cohort study to evaluate trends in the etiology of HCC among adult LT recipients in the U.S. from 2002 to 2012, using national data from the United Network for Organ Sharing registry. From 2002-2012, there were 61,868 adults who underwent LT in the U.S., including 10,061 patients with HCC. The total number and proportion of HCC LT recipients demonstrated a significant increase following the implementation of the Model for Endstage Liver Disease (MELD) scoring system in 2002 (3.3%, n=143 in 2000 versus 12.2%, n=714 in 2005 versus 23.3%, n=1336 in 2012). The proportion of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related HCC increased steadily from 2002 to 2012, and HCV remained the leading etiology of HCC throughout the MELD era (43.4% in 2002 versus 46.3% in 2007 versus 49.9% in 2012). NASH-related HCC also increased significantly, and NASH is the second leading etiology of HCC-related LT (8.3% in 2002 versus 10.3% in 2007 versus 13.5% in 2012). From 2002 to 2012, the number of patients undergoing LT for HCC secondary to NASH increased by nearly 4-fold, and the number of LT patients with HCC secondary to HCV increased by 2-fold.

Conclusion: NASH is the second leading etiology of HCC leading to LT in the U.S. More important, NASH is currently the most rapidly growing indication for LT in patients with HCC in the U.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery
  • Fatty Liver / complications*
  • Fatty Liver / epidemiology
  • Fatty Liver / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology