The optimal duration of therapy for pegylated interferon combined with ribavirin in recurrent Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following liver transplantation is not known. We wanted to determine if testing for HCV in liver tissue by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was superior in predicting sustained virological response (SVR) in comparison to standard HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) detection in the serum. All recipients received combination pegylated alpha-2b interferon (1.5 mcg / kg) and ribavirin (200-600mg / d) therapy for at least 48 weeks of therapy and were found to have nondetectable HCV RNA by PCR serum testing at the end of therapy. Sustained virological response (SVR) was defined as nondetectable serum HCV RNA at 6 months post treatment withdrawal. Ten liver transplant recipients were included in the study; mean time from transplantation was 29.2 months. All had nondetectable serum HCV RNA by RT-PCR. In hepatic tissue 7/10 patients HCV RNA was found to be positive by RT-PCR while 3/10 had nondetectable HCV RNA in their liver by RT-PCR. SVR was attained in all 3/10 that were hepatic tissue HCV PCR negative after 12 months of combination therapy. In conclusion, direct detection of HCV RNA by RT-PCR of liver tissue appears to more effectively predict SVR following pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy than the conventional use of serum.
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