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  • 1 2nd Department of Medicine, Semmelweis University Medical School Budapest, Molecular Medicine Research Group, Hungarian Academy of Sciences — Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2 Szentkirályi u. 46, H-1088, Budapest, Hungary
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Abstract

The main indication for liver transplantation is the final stage of hepatic cirrhosis developed due to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The recurrence of HCV infection after transplantation is a common situation. Recurrent hepatitis C is a progressive disease; in 20% of patients it produces liver cirrhosis without treatment beside immunosuppression within 5 years. Treatment of recurrent HCV infection is the most important factor of survival in patients with transplantation. Based on literary data and their observations, the authors review the factors influencing the progression of recurrent HCV infection. They discuss in details the effect of immunosuppressive therapy, the importance of selecting appropriate immunosuppressive drugs. They review the key points in the diagnosis of recurrent hepatitis C; underline the decisive role of liver biopsy carried out according to protocol in the diagnosis, as well as the hard consultation between specialists of pathology, hepatology and surgery. They demonstrate their observations with the treatment of patients on the waiting list, the results of early pre-emptive treatment of recurrent chronic hepatitis, furthermore treatment modalities and results in patients with histologically proven chronic hepatitis C. The drug of choice for chronic hepatitis C after transplantation is combined therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. This therapy is able to assure sustained virological negativity in 20–50% of patients. In virus-free patients the inflammatory activity in the liver significantly decreases, and the histologic activity index improves. There are data showing a fibrosis-inhibiting effect of the treatment, however, multicentric studies are required for their confirmation. No advantage of early antiviral treatment without histologic alteration has been confirmed by most of the trials. In this group of patients common side effects of the treatment include anaemia and neutropenia, and therefore administration of erythropoietin and granulocyte stimulating factor is recommended. Further research and clinical studies are required in order to establish optimal treatment of patients with recurrent hepatitis C, to determine the dosage of pegylated interferon and ribavirin, to decrease duration of therapy, to reduce side effects and finally to achieve the healing phase in a greater percentage of patients.

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