A pilot study of ribavirin therapy for recurrent hepatitis C virus infection after liver transplantation

Transplantation. 1996 May 27;61(10):1483-8. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199605270-00013.


Ribavirin is a guanosine analogue that normalizes serum liver enzymes in most nontransplant patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We conducted an uncontrolled pilot study of ribavirin in 9 liver transplantation recipients that had persistently elevated liver enzymes, active hepatitis by liver biopsy, and HCV RNA in serum by polymerase chain reaction. Ribavirin was given orally at dosages of 800-1200 mg per day for 3 mo. All 9 patients promptly responded to ribavirin: mean (+/- SD) ALT decreased from 392 +/- 377 IU/L immediately before treatment to 199 +/- 185 and 68 +/- 37 IU/L after 1 and 12 weeks of treatment, respectively, complete normalization of enzymes occurred in 4 patients. None of the patients cleared the virus from their serum during therapy, and biochemical relapse occurred in all patients 4 +/- 4.2 weeks after cessation of therapy. The hepatitis activity index of liver biopsy specimens obtained before and at the cessation of therapy was similar. Ribavirin treatment was resumed in 4 patients because of increasing fatigue (2 patients), rising bilirubin (3), or increasing necroinflammation on liver biopsy (2); the biochemical response to the second course of therapy was similar to the first course in all 4 patients. Ribavirin caused reversible hemolysis in all patients, including symptomatic anemia in 3 patients that resolved after reduction of drug dosage. These results suggest that ribavirin may be of benefit in the treatment of HCV infection after liver transplantation. Further studies are needed to determine the optimal dosage and duration of therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation* / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Recurrence
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • RNA, Viral
  • Ribavirin
  • Alanine Transaminase