Matching for liver transplants could prevent disease recurrence, says Pitt study

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30 While matching currently is not used for liver transplantation, a study of more than 3,000 transplants suggests such testing for donor and recipient compatibility could reduce the incidence of disease recurrence after transplantation. The results of the University of Pittsburgh study the largest study of its kind from a single institution could help settle the score in a debate about the role of matching for liver transplantation, which has had tissue typers and surgeons on opposite sides of the issue for nearly two decades.

According to the retrospective study of 3,261 patients who received liver transplants at the University of Pittsburgh, immune system compatibility, or histocompatibility, between a donor and recipient not only has an impact on the incidence of rejection and graft failure, but disease recurrence after transplantation is profoundly affected as well. Their results were presented today at the American Transplant Congress, Transplant 2002, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Specifically, the researchers found that while a match between donor and recipient indicates organ rejection is less likely, a match also increases the odds that patients transplanted for hepatitis C or primary biliary cirrhosis will have recurrence of their disease.

"This is particularly significant for hepatitis C, the most common indication for liver transplantation and where the absolute majority of the patients suffer recurrence after transplantation. Perhaps by paying attention to histocompatibility we may be able to reduce the numbers," noted John J. Fung, M.D., Ph.D., Thomas E. Starzl Professor of Transplantation Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh's Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute.

Matching is considered important for kidney transplantation and has been performed routinely for years. But for liver transplantation, the practicality and merits of its use have often been que

Contact: Lisa Rossi
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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