Article

Treatment of hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) after renal transplantation: implications for HCV-positive dialysis patients awaiting a kidney transplant.

Multiorgan Transplant Unit, CHU Rangueil, Toulouse, France.
Transplantation (Impact Factor: 3.78). 11/2006; 82(7):853-6. DOI: 10.1097/01.tp.0000238898.14393.c9
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Patient survival is significantly lower in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive compared to HCV-negative dialysis patients. After renal transplantation, immunosuppressive therapy can result in an increased burden of HCV viremia. Both patient and graft survivals are lower in HCV-positive compared to matched HCV-negative renal-transplant patients. Therefore, it is important to treat HCV infection. At present, after renal transplantation, there is no current safe and efficient therapy. Alpha-interferon (alpha-IFN) does not give a sustained virological response, and is associated with a high rate of renal failure. Ribavirin and amantadine monotherapies are associated with a significant improvement in liver enzymes, but have no impact upon HCV viremia. Ribavirin, however, may be indicated in cases of HCV-related glomerulopathy because it can significantly decrease proteinuria. The combined use of alpha-IFN and ribavirin should only be given to those patients who have developed posttransplant fibrosing cholestatic hepatitis. Therefore, HCV infection needs to be treated pretransplant. In dialysis patients, the only recommended therapy, as yet, is alpha-IFN monotherapy. Pegylated alpha-IFN is under evaluation and ribavirin is contraindicated because it results in severe hemolytic anemia. Twelve months of alpha-IFN therapy results in sustained virological clearance in approximately 40% of patients, regardless of their genotype. HCV RNA, after three months of alpha-IFN therapy, is a predictive factor for a long-term sustained response. Finally, when HCV-positive dialysis patients with a sustained virological response undergo successful renal transplantation, very few suffer a virological relapse, thus emphasizing that these patients were cured.

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