Background/aims: Several genotypes of hepatitis C virus (HCV) have been identified by phylogenetic analysis, but their clinical relevance remains elusive. Liver transplantation for HCV-related cirrhosis offers a unique opportunity for prospective studies of this issue.
Methods: Sixty anti-HCV-positive liver recipients with precise virological and histological assessments were included. HCV genotype was determined with both type-specific capsid primers and a line probe genotyping assay.
Results: HCV genotype 1b was the predominant type before transplantation (40 of 60 patients); after liver transplantation, acute and chronic active hepatitis developed more frequently in these patients than in patients infected by other genotypes (31 of 40 and 24 of 40 vs. 8 of 20 and 4 of 20 patients). Actuarial rates of acute hepatitis and chronic active hepatitis were 77% and 59%, respectively, 3 years after transplantation in patients infected by type 1b and 40% (P = 0.008) and 22% (P = 0.004) in those infected by other types. There was no statistical relation between the level of HCV viremia and HCV genotypes both before and after transplantation. In contrast, after transplantation, serum HCV RNA values were significantly increased in patients who developed hepatitis after transplantation.
Conclusions: This study provides direct evidence that HCV 1b is associated with more aggressive recurrent liver disease than other genotypes.