The time progression of allograft damage in patients with recurrent hepatitis C after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is not precisely determined. The aim of this analysis is to study the progression of disease recurrence and its impact on patient and graft survival. Data for 300 patients who underwent OLT for hepatitis C were analyzed regarding the incidence of histological recurrence, risk factors, immunosuppressive regimen, rejection episodes, and survival. For patients with histological recurrence, the timing and risks for disease progression were analyzed. Data for 30 patients who underwent retransplantation were studied. Histological recurrence occurred in 40.3% of patients, 27.2% of whom progressed to bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis. Eighty-seven percent of the patients experienced recurrence of disease within 24 months of OLT. Patients with histological recurrence within 6 months of OLT had an increased risk for progression to cirrhosis compared with patients with recurrence later than 6 months (risk ratio, 2.3). Recurrence within 1 year was associated with decreased patient and graft survival rates at 1 and 5 years (65.1% and 56.4% versus 80.6% and 78.4%; P = .004 and P = .0008, respectively). Patients with histological recurrence had a greater incidence of acute cellular rejection, as well as multiple episodes of rejection, steroid-resistant rejections, and greater cumulative doses of corticosteroids. Histological recurrence after OLT for hepatitis C is common and usually occurs within 2 years of OLT. Early recurrence negatively affects patient and graft survival. Host factors impacting on recurrence need further study. A relation between the hepatitis C virus, allograft rejection, and immunosuppression exists and needs investigation.
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