Background. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) recurrence after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is universal. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RIB) in the treatment of post-OLT HCV recurrence. Methods. Thirty-seven patients with recurrent HCV after OLT were screened and began treatment. Nineteen patients have completed therapy. PEG-IFN was started at a dose of 0.5 μg/kg per week and titrated toward a maximum dose of 1.5 μg/kg per week. RIB was started at a dose of 400 mg per day and titrated toward a maximum of 1000 mg per day, as tolerated. Therapy continued for 1 year after HCV replication was undetectable by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and was discontinued if there was no virologic clearance at 48 weeks. Results. Twelve patients (63%) completed the combination regimen. Therapy was discontinued in seven (37%) patients. Seven patients (37%) had undetectable viral load at the end of treatment. Of those, five patients (26%) had sustained viral response 6 months after discontinuation of therapy. Five patients (26%) had no virologic response. Necro-inflammatory score declined from 5.22 to 2.89 (P=0.05) in nonresponders versus 6.8 to 2.6 (P<0.01) in responders. Fibrosis stage did not change in either group. Genotype 1-infected patients had a lower likelihood of attaining end of treatment or sustained viral response (P<0.05 for both). Conclusions. Post-OLT HCV recurrence can be safely treated with PEG-IFN and RIB. Bone marrow toxicity, depression, and rejection are limiting factors that require aggressive management. There was short-term histologic benefit to the use of this regimen, even in those patients without viral clearance.
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