The researchers investigated outcomes following liver transplantation for hepatitis C virus (HCV) cirrhosis, and published their results in the current issue of Hepatology.
They also compared survival with that among non-HCV-infected cirrhosis controls.
Among 522 cirrhotic patients undergoing transplantation between 1991 and 2000, 283 (54%) were infected with HCV.
Yearly biopsies were performed in these recipients and at 1 and 5 years in the remainder.
With similar follow-up, the percentage of deaths in the HCV-positive group was significantly higher than in the HCV-negative group (37% vs 22%).
Patient survival was also lower (77%, 61%, 55% vs 87%, 76%, 70% at 1, 5, and 7 years, respectively).
|Deaths after liver transplant:|
| Hepatology |
Although survival has increased in the HCV-negative group in recent years, it has significantly decreased in HCV recipients.
The main cause of death among the latter was found to be decompensated graft cirrhosis (n = 23/105, 22%), whereas that of HCV-negative patients was infections (n = 10/52, 19%).
Reasons for the recent worse outcome in HCV-positive recipients include the increased donor age and stronger immunosuppression.
Dr Marina Berenguer, of the Faith University Hospital, Valencia, concluded on behalf of her colleagues, "Patient survival is lower among HCV-positive recipients than among HCV-negative ones and has been decreasing in recent years.
"The aging of donors is a major contributor to this worse outcome."