Hepatitis C recurs rapidly after liver transplant

When a diseased liver is removed from a patient with Hepatitis C (HCV), serum viral levels plummet. However, after receiving a healthy liver transplant, virus levels rebound and can surpass pre-transplant levels within a few days, according to a new study published in the February 2006 issue of Liver Transplantation, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the International Liver Transplantation Society (ILTS). The journal is published on behalf of the societies by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and is available online via Wiley InterScience (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/livertransplantation).

Hepatitis C is the number one reason for liver transplantation, however, the virus always recurs in the new liver. Since mathematical models have been useful in the study of the viral dynamics of HIV and hepatitis B, researchers, led by Kimberly A. Powers and Ruy M. Ribeiro of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, sought to use a mathematical model to quantify the liver reinfection dynamics of HCV.

The researchers, in collaboration with a surgical team lead by John McHutchison now at Duke University Medical Center, followed six HCV-infected patients who received cadaveric liver transplants. They collected blood samples before, during and after transplantation to assess changing levels of HCV RNA which was measured using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction assay. They then plugged the data into a mathematical model, correcting for fluid balance, and analyzed the results using linear regression.

"In most patients," the authors report, "HCV RNA levels decreased rapidly during and after transplantation and subsequently began to increase reaching above pre-transplant levels in all but one patient within a few days of the procedure." They found that when the diseased liver was removed, virus level

Contact: David Greenberg
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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