The researchers investigated fibrosis progression following liver transplantation for hepatitis C, and the impact that donor age has on this.
The results of the study were published in the August issue of Gut.
A total of 101 post-transplant specimens from 56 HCV-infected liver transplant patients were examined.
The biopsies were looked at to assess histological activity, including fibrosis stage (scored 0-6 units, 6 representing established cirrhosis), and to calculate fibrosis progression rates.
Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to examine the impact of parameters, including recipient and donor age and sex, on fibrosis progression rate and on predicted time to cirrhosis.
The median fibrosis progression rate was found to be 0.78 units/year, and median interval from transplantation to development of cirrhosis was 7.7 years.
In multivariate analysis, donor age (not recipient age) was a powerful determinant of fibrosis progression rate.
When the liver donor was younger than 40 years, median progression rate was 0.6 units/year and interval to cirrhosis was 10 years.
|Interval to cirrhosis:|
Donors < 40: 10 years
Donors ≥ 50: 2.2 years
However, when the donor was aged 50 years or more, median progression rate was 2.7 units/year and interval to cirrhosis only 2.2 years.
The investigators found that, during the observation period, there was a significant increase in donor age. However, date of transplantation per se was not a determinant of progression rate when included in multivariate analyses.
Author M. Wali, of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, said on behalf of the group, "Donor age has a major influence on graft outcome following transplantation for HCV.
"The changing organ donor profile will affect the long-term results of liver transplantation for HCV."
"These observations have important implications for donor liver allocation," it was concluded.