Survival benefits of interferon-based therapy in patients with recurrent hepatitis C after orthotopic liver transplantation
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Recurrent hepatitis C after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is universal and can lead to graft failure and, consequently, reduced survival. Hepatitis C treatment can be used to prevent these detrimental outcomes. The aim of this study was to describe rates of hepatitis C recurrence and sustained virological response (SVR) to interferon-based treatment after OLT and its relationship to survival and progression of liver disease through retrospective analysis of medical records of 127 patients who underwent OLT due to cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma secondary to chronic hepatitis C between January 2002 and December 2013. Fifty-six patients were diagnosed with recurrent disease, 42 started interferon-based therapy and 37 completed treatment. Demographic, treatment- and outcome-related variables were compared between SVR and non-responders (non-SVR). There was an overall 54.1% SVR rate with interferon-based therapies. SVR was associated with longer follow-up after treatment (median 66.5 vs 37 months for non-SVR, P=0.03) and after OLT (median 105 vs 72 months, P=0.074), and lower rates of disease progression (15 vs 64.7%, P=0.0028) and death (5 vs 35.3%, P=0.033). Regardless of the result of therapy (SVR or non-SVR), there was a significant difference between treated and untreated patients regarding the occurrence of death (P<0.001) and months of survival (P<0.001). Even with suboptimal interferon-based therapies (compared to the new direct-acting antivirals) there is a 54.1% SVR rate to treatment. SVR is associated with improved survival and reduced risks of clinical decompensation, loss of the liver graft and death.