Biopsy Specimens From Allograft Liver Contain Histologic Features of Hepatitis C Virus Infection After Virus Eradication

Emma Whitcomb, Won Tak Choi, Keith R. Jerome, Linda Cook, Charles Landis, Joseph Ahn, Helen S. Te, Jamak Esfeh, Ibrahim A. Hanouneh, Stephen C. Rayhill, William Gibson, Thomas Plesec, Jamie Koo, Hanlin L. Wang, John Hart, Rish K. Pai, Maria Westerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background & Aims Most patients, even those who have received a liver transplant, achieve a sustained virologic response (SVR) to therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Little is known about the histologic features of liver biopsy specimens collected after SVR, particularly in patients who have received a liver transplant. We aimed to better characterize the histologic features of allograft liver biopsy specimens from patients who achieved SVR to anti-HCV therapy after liver transplantation. Methods We performed a retrospective analysis of 170 allograft liver biopsy specimens from 36 patients who received a liver transplant for chronic HCV infection, had recurrent HCV infection after transplantation, and subsequently achieved SVR (collected from 1999 through 2015 at 4 medical centers). SVR was defined as an undetectable serum HCV RNA level 24 weeks after completion of HCV treatment. A total of 65 biopsy specimens were post-SVR (at least 1 post-SVR from each patient; some biopsy specimens were collected at later time points from a subset of patients). We performed polymerase chain reaction analysis for HCV RNA on a subset of the biopsy specimens (28 collected before SVR and 32 after SVR). Results Of the 65 post-SVR biopsy specimens, 45 (69%) had histologic features of active HCV infection. Of the initial post-SVR biopsy specimens collected from each of the 36 patients, 32 (89%) showed these changes. For patients with more than 1 post-SVR biopsy specimen, 6 (46%) had no change in fibrosis between biopsies, and fibrosis worsened for 3 patients (23%) based on their most recent biopsy. The HCV RNA level was undetectable in 31 of the 32 biopsy specimens analyzed by polymerase chain reaction. Conclusions In a retrospective analysis of allograft liver biopsy specimens from patients who achieved SVR after a liver transplant for chronic HCV infection, histologic changes associated with active HCV were present in 69% and fibrosis continued to progress in 23%, despite the lack of detection of HCV RNA. Pathologists should be aware of patients’ SVR status when analyzing liver biopsy specimens to avoid diagnoses of chronic HCV-associated hepatitis. Because of the persistent inflammatory activity and fibrosis after SVR, clinicians should continue to monitor patients carefully after SVR to anti-HCV therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1279-1285
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Volume15
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • DAA Therapy
  • Pathology
  • Recurrence
  • Tissue Damage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

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    Whitcomb, E., Choi, W. T., Jerome, K. R., Cook, L., Landis, C., Ahn, J., Te, H. S., Esfeh, J., Hanouneh, I. A., Rayhill, S. C., Gibson, W., Plesec, T., Koo, J., Wang, H. L., Hart, J., Pai, R. K., & Westerhoff, M. (2017). Biopsy Specimens From Allograft Liver Contain Histologic Features of Hepatitis C Virus Infection After Virus Eradication. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 15(8), 1279-1285. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2017.04.041