Outcomes of acute rejection after interferon therapy in liver transplant recipients

Sammy Saab, Denise Kalmaz, Nupoor A. Gajjar, Jonathan Hiatt, Francisco Durazo, Steven Han, Douglas G. Farmer, R. Mark Ghobrial, Hasan Yersiz, Leonard I. Goldstein, Charles R. Lassman, Ronald W. Busuttil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Interferon alfa has been increasingly used against recurrent hepatitis C (HCV) disease in post-liver transplant (LT) recipients. A serious potential adverse effect is acute rejection. We reviewed our experience using interferon-based therapy (interferon or pegylated interferon with or without ribavirin) for treating recurrent HCV in LT recipients. Forty-four LT recipients were treated with interferon for recurrent HCV. Five of the 44 patients developed acute rejection during interferon-based therapy. These 5 patients started treatment of 42.4 ± 33.89 months (mean ± SD) after LT. Mean (± SD) histological activity index and fibrosis scores before initiating antiviral therapy were 8.8 (± 1.92) and 2.6 (± 0.55), respectively. Patients were treated for 3.3 ± 2.28 months (mean ± SD) prior to rejection. At the time of rejection, HCV load was not detectable in 4 of the 5 recipients. All 5 patients had tolerated interferon therapy, and none had stopped therapy because of adverse effects. The rejection was successfully treated in 3 patients. In 2 of those 3 patients, cirrhosis eventually developed. In the 2 patients who did not respond to rejection treatment, immediate graft failure occurred, leading to re-LT in 1 patient and death from sepsis in the other. In conclusion, the results indicate that further studies are needed to assess the safety of interferon in LT recipients. Interferon-based therapy may lead to acute rejection and subsequent graft loss and should therefore be used with caution. Treated recipients may also develop progressive cirrhosis despite achieving a sustained virological response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-867
Number of pages9
JournalLiver Transplantation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Hepatology
  • Transplantation


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