Impact of immunosuppression minimization and withdrawal in long-term hepatitis C virus liver transplant recipients.

Research paper by Tommaso Maria TM Manzia, Roberta R Angelico, Paolo P Ciano, Jon J Mugweru, Kofi K Owusu, Daniele D Sforza, Luca L Toti, Giuseppe G Tisone

Indexed on: 19 Sep '14Published on: 19 Sep '14Published in: World journal of gastroenterology


To investigate the effects of different immunosuppressive regimens and avoidance on fibrosis progression in hepatitis C virus (HCV) liver transplant (LT) recipients.We retrospectively compared the liver biopsies of well-matched HCV LT recipients under calcineurin inhibitors (CNI group, n = 21) and mycophenolate (MMF group, n = 15) monotherapy, with those patients who successfully withdrawn immunosuppression (IS) therapy from at least 3 years (TOL group, n = 10). To perform the well-matched analysis, all HCV transplanted patients from December 1993 were screened. Only those HCV patients who reached the following criteria were considered for the analysis: (1) at least 3 years of post-operative follow-up; (2) patients with normal liver graft function under low dose CNI monotherapy (CNI group); (3) patients with normal liver graft function under antimetabolite (Micophenolate Mofetil or coated mycophenolate sodium) monotherapy (MMF group); and (4) recipients with normal liver function without any IS. We excluded from the analysis recipients who were IS free or under monotherapy for < 36 mo, recipients with cirrhosis or with unstable liver function tests.Thirty six recipients were enrolled in the study. Demographics, clinical data, time after LT and baseline liver biopsies were comparable in the three groups. After six years of follow-up, there was no worsening of hepatic fibrosis in the MMF group (2.5 ± 1.5 Ishak Units vs 2.9 ± 1.7 Ishak Units, P = 0.5) and TOL group (2.7 ± 10.7 vs 2.5 ± 1.2, P = 0.2). In contrast, a significant increase in the fibrosis score was observed in the CNI group (2.2 ± 1.7 vs 3.9 ± 1.6, P = 0.008). The yearly fibrosis progression rate was significantly worse in the CNI group (0.32 ± 0.35) vs MMF group (0.03 ± 0.31, P = 0.03), and TOL group (-0.02 ± 0.27, P = 0.02). No differences have been reported in grading scores for CNI group (2.79 ± 1.9, P = 0.7), MMF group (3.2 ± 1.5, P = 0.9) and TOL group (3.1 ± 1.4, P = 0.2). Twenty four patients were treated with low dose ribavirin (8 TOL, 7 MMF, 9 CNI). The hepatitis C titers were comparable in the three groups. No episodes of rejection have been reported despite differences of liver function test in the three groups during the observational period.IS withdrawal and MMF monotherapy is safe and seems to be associated with the slowest fibrosis progression in HCV LT recipients.