Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-induced cirrhosis is the commonest indication for orthotopic liver transplantation, but HCV recurrence is nearly universal and may worsen patient / graft outcomes. The frequency and severity of HCV recurrence has apparently increased in recent years, raising concern about a possible role for newer immunosuppression regimens in this increase, including potentially tacrolimus. We randomized 79 patients to receive tacrolimus or cyclosporine as primary immunosuppressant posttransplantation. A pathologist blinded to treatment reviewed serial liver biopsies. Month 12 cumulative probabilities of histological hepatitis C recurrence for tacrolimus- and cyclosporine-treated patients were .38 and .54 (P = .19) and failure / death were .25 and .28, respectively (P = .789). Although cyclosporine-treated patients had significantly larger increases in median serum HCV RNA levels (months 1, 6, and 12), no significant differences were observed between the two treatment arms in histologically-diagnosed HCV recurrence / survival rates. In conclusion, choice of calcineurin inhibitors does not impact severity of recurrent HCV.
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