Direct-Acting Antiviral Therapy for Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Infection and Decompensated Cirrhosis

Dig Dis Sci. 2024 May;69(5):1551-1561. doi: 10.1007/s10620-024-08393-x. Epub 2024 Apr 5.


Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and decompensated cirrhosis are an important population for antiviral therapy yet under-represented in clinical trials. HCV direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapies, unlike interferon-containing regimens, can be safely utilized in decompensated patients. Per guidelines from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), therapy of choice in HCV and decompensated cirrhosis is sofosbuvir, an HCV polymerase inhibitor, combined with a replication complex inhibitor (NS5A inhibitor) with or without ribavirin. Combination therapy with a HCV protease inhibitor and an NS5A inhibitor is effective in this population but is specifically not recommended in AASLD guidelines due to safety concerns. Important risk factors for further decompensation during DAA therapy are serum albumin < 3.5 g/dL, MELD (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) score > 14, or HCV genotype 3 infection. Although sustained virologic response (SVR) is achieved less often in patients with decompensated vs compensated cirrhosis, in clinical studies response rates are > 80%. Both Child-Turcotte-Pugh Class at baseline and viral genotype can affect these response rates. Achieving SVR lowers risk of mortality, but to a lesser extent than in individuals with compensated cirrhosis. Likewise, treating patients for HCV infection along with successful treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma improves risks of both liver-related and overall mortality. In fewer than one third of cases, treating transplant-eligible, HCV-infected patients pre-transplant enables their delisting from transplant wait lists.

Keywords: Child-Turcotte-Pugh class; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver transplantation; Model for end-stage liver disease; Sofosbuvir.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Hepacivirus / drug effects
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic* / complications
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis* / drug therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis* / virology
  • Sofosbuvir / therapeutic use
  • Sustained Virologic Response