Morbidity and mortality of recurrent hepatitis C infection after orthotopic liver transplantation

J Viral Hepat. 1997;4 Suppl 1:117-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.1997.tb00172.x.


Through molecular virological testing it is now clear that HCV reinfection of the allograft is virtually universal in liver transplant recipients. Although histopathological recurrence of hepatitis C occurs in the majority of patients, it is absent in a substantial minority. To date, no prognostic factors, other than genotype 1b, have been identified that accurately predict these dissimilar outcomes. The natural history of recurrent hepatitis C varies. Historically, it has been regarded as generally benign. However, with increasing numbers of patients transplanted for hepatitis C it is now clear that a subgroup of patients develops severe progressive cholestatic hepatitis associated with allograft failure and death without retransplantation. Within 5 years following OLT, approximately 15-20% of patients progress to chronic active hepatitis and another 15-20% become cirrhotic. A minority of patients develop glomerulopathy or vasculitis, which are often associated with cryoglobulinaemia. The impact of immunosuppressive medications and rejection episodes on histopathological recurrence of progressive hepatitis C remains controversial and requires further studies. Although actuarial survival rates of patients transplanted for hepatitis C differ among transplantation centres, it appears that histopathological recurrence of hepatitis C does have an adverse impact on actuarial survival compared to the survival of patients transplanted for autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and metabolic liver diseases. When allograft failure develops in patients with recurrent hepatitis C, retransplantation is indicated, even though recent reports indicate that mortality may be increased, especially with concurrent renal insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Morbidity
  • Postoperative Complications* / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications* / mortality
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Risk Factors