Intractable and dramatic diarrhea in liver transplantation recipient with vasoactive intestinal peptide-producing tumor after split liver transplantation: a case report

Transplant Proc. 2015 Jan-Feb;47(1):171-3. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2014.07.078. Epub 2015 Jan 14.


Diarrhea after liver transplantation is a common complication. Vasoactive intestinal peptide-producing tumor (VIPoma) is a rare cause of watery diarrhea; 80% of such tumors occur in the pancreas, but it is rare in liver. Hypersecretion of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide can stimulate intestinal water and electrolyte secretion, and patients with VIPoma present with watery diarrhea, hypokalemia, and dehydration. Here we report on a 50-year-old man who presented with a 7-month history of watery diarrhea. He had undergone an orthotopic split-liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma in November 2011. Two months after the liver transplantation, he presented with watery diarrhea, dehydration, and hypokalemia. Antibiotics, immunosuppressive drugs modification, antidiarrheal agents, antispasmodics, adsorbents, and fasting were alternately used to control the diarrhea, but his symptoms remained unchanged. A chromogranin examination, a marker of pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasm, was positive in the third month of the diarrhea history and VIPoma was considered. Treatment with somatostatin immediately controlled the diarrhea, but the primary lesion could not be identified even after corresponding examinations were completed. In the ninth month of diarrhea, a 1 × 1-cm lesion was detected in the right liver by ultrasonography. Radiofrequency ablation was performed, and the diarrhea stopped. Seventeen months later, the chromogranin level decreased to normal and the patient was asymptomatic. Neither the recipient sharing the other liver portion nor the donor presented with any symptoms, so we wondered how the tumor occurred. It is possible that a small VIPoma lesion existed in the liver donor before the transplantation, and that the immunosuppressive drugs induced tumor development.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery
  • Diarrhea / etiology*
  • Diarrhea / pathology
  • Diarrhea / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypokalemia / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Somatostatin / therapeutic use
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Vipoma / diagnosis*
  • Vipoma / etiology
  • Vipoma / surgery


  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Somatostatin