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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 25 (2011), Issue 1, Pages 28-34
Original Article

The Impact of Sirolimus on hepatitis C Recurrence after Liver Transplantation

Sonal Asthana,1 Christian Toso,1 Glenda Meeberg,1 David L Bigam,1 Andrew Mason,2 AM James Shapiro,1 and Norman M Kneteman1

1Department of Surgery, Section of Hepatobiliary, Pancreatic and Transplant Surgery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
2Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Received 13 July 2010; Accepted 30 July 2010

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: While some immunosuppression strategies may accelerate hepatitis C virus (HCV) recurrence after liver transplantation (LT), the impact of sirolimus (SRL) is not known.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the risk of biopsy-proven HCV recurrence and patient survival using known and suspected risk factors for HCV recurrence as covariates.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis of 141 consecutive patients, including 88 who received de novo SRL therapy, who had undergone a first LT for HCV cirrhosis was conducted. Known and suspected risk factor covariates including transplant era, donor and recipient age, Model for End-stage Liver Disease score, cold ischemia time, immunosuppressive drugs and steroid treatment rejection rates were used in the assessment.

RESULTS: Overall, 72.3% of the cohort developed biopsy-proven HCV recurrence. The incidence of HCV recurrence was not significantly different for patients treated with SRL (75% versus 69.8%; P=0.5). There was no difference found for time to recurrence, nor did mean activity or fibrosis scores differ at the time of initial recurrence. However, on follow-up using serial biopsies in patients with recurrence, the mean activity and fibrosis scores were significantly lower in the SRL group. Donor age and acute rejection episodes were the only factors affecting the HCV recurrence rate (expB 1.02 [95% CI 1.01 to 1.03]); P=0.03; and expB 2.8 [95% CI 1.8 to 4.3]; P<0.01], respectively). SRL treatment did not alter patient survival rates. Among patients treated with SRL-based immunosuppression, higher drug area under the curve levels were associated with a trend to lower disease activity and fibrosis at diagnosis; however, higher SRL levels were associated with shorter recurrence-free survival (P=0.038).

CONCLUSION: Results of the present analysis suggest that de novo SRL-based immunosuppression can be safely used in patients undergoing LT for HCV-associated liver disease; however, SRL-based immunosuppression did not significantly affect the timing or severity of post-transplant HCV recurrence. HCV recurrence in SRL-treated patients had lower progressive activity and fibrosis levels on serial biopsy.