BACKGROUND. Interferon use for post liver transplantation (LT) recurrent hepatitis C (HCV) has not consistently been associated with acute cellular rejection (ACR). We examined the incidence of chronic ductopenic rejection (CR) in patients receiving pegylated interferon alfa-2a and ribavirin (PEG) to treat recurrent HCV. METHODS. A chart review of 12 patients developing CR while receiving an escalating dose regimen of PEG with protocol liver biopsies every 6 months was conducted. Values are shown as median (range). RESULTS. Twelve of the 70 patients treated with PEG developed CR. Median age at LT was 53 (37-63) years; immunosuppression consisted of tacrolimus or cyclosporine with prednisone. PEG was started at 3.6 (0.2-13.5) years after LT. Two patients had one episode of ACR before PEG. Four patients had first ACR while receiving PEG. CR was diagnosed after 12 (4-17) months of PEG; by then 8 patients had undetectable HCV-RNA. Tacrolimus and cyclosporine levels (ng/mL) were 7.9 (3.2-18.9) and 76 (71-93) before PEG, and 6.9 (3.7-9.7) and 130 (81-153) at CR. Six patients were treated more than 1 year with PEG; three had undetectable HCV-RNA when CR was diagnosed. Five patients are being treated for CR; one has been listed for LT; two patients were retransplanted. Five patients died as a result of sepsis partially related to CR. CONCLUSIONS. Treatment with pegylated-interferon alpha-2a and ribavirin may trigger rapidly progressive CR in patients with therapeutic immunosuppressive trough levels, with or without first inducing ACR.
- Chronic rejection
- Pegylated interferon