Recurrence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis following liver transplantation

Transplantation. 1996 Dec 27;62(12):1802-5. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199612270-00021.


Patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) may develop progressive liver dysfunction necessitating liver transplantation (OLT). We report the incidence of recurrent disease and outcome in patients undergoing OLT for NASH. Patients transplanted for NASH were identified according to pretransplant and explant liver histology. Patients with significant alcohol consumption were excluded. Medical records were reviewed to extract pre- and posttransplant data, including sequential body weight, biochemistry, and graft histology. Of 622 liver explants, eight patients had features consistent with NASH. All patients were female with a median age of 58. Seven patients were diagnosed with NASH preoperatively, including three who had undergone jejunoileal bypass. One patient was diagnosed as cryptogenic cirrhosis. At a median of 15 months following OLT, all of the eight patients were alive with no graft failure. Six patients developed persistent fatty infiltration in their graft, three of whom had accompanying hepatocellular degeneration, consistent with a diagnosis of recurrent NASH. In two patients, transition from mild steatosis to steatohepatitis and early fibrosis was observed over one to two years. The patients who did not develop recurrent steatosis had significant weight loss following transplantation, although the length of follow-up was relatively short. Patients undergoing OLT for NASH may develop recurrent steatosis shortly after transplantation, with possible progression to steatohepatitis and fibrosis. Although longer follow-up is necessary to determine the eventual prognosis related to the recurrent fat and fibrosis in the graft, patients with endstage liver disease due to NASH should be considered good candidates for OLT.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Fatty Liver, Alcoholic / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Failure / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome